The last two weeks of the baseball season are going to be insane, with over half the MLB playoff spots still up in the air. The new Clint Eastwood film “Trouble with the Curve” tries to cash in on the fan fervor, much like 2011’s “Moneyball,” which came out exactly a year ago last weekend.
But unlike “Moneyball,” this movie is not truly about baseball. Nor is it wholly about relationships, and therein lies its weakness. Director Robert Lorenz’s film tries to straddle the fence between sports saga and love story, and in his unwillingness to commit either way, misses both.
Eastwood plays Gus, an old-timer baseball scout who still believes his aging senses can find talent better than any computer program or armchair statistician. His daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) is a high-powered attorney who longs to connect with her prickly, distant father. Justin Timberlake plays a washed-out baseball player who wants to learn the ropes from Gus and falls for Mickey along the way.
It’s a nice, albeit unoriginal, setup, and makes for an entertaining story with a heartwarming ending.
But nothing gets developed enough. Gus and Mickey love baseball. We know this because they say they do, and they know so many facts about the game. But at no point in “Trouble with the Curve” do we feel their love for the game, especially when compared to a movie like “Moneyball,” which I found a little inaccessible because I don’t love baseball as much as Billy Beane does.
Meanwhile, the “love story” is really a father-daughter thing. Gus never talks to Mickey, and Mickey storms out on several occasions after their failures to communicate. Finally, Gus reveals that he abandoned her because a traumatic experience in her early childhood — which she has no memory of — convinced him he couldn’t raise a child. Then he abandons her again. Then he accepts her. But at each step I found myself asking: “Why exactly did A lead to B? How does this behavior necessarily stem from this circumstance?”
Maybe “Trouble with the Curve” would work better with more psychological, nuanced performances from the leads. Eastwood is one-note as a crusty old man, and Adams seems permanently shoehorned into cute, spunky, and not too deep. Timberlake is the movie’s brightest spot, but even he only brings charm and some laughs.
As it is, the film falls short of satisfying. It’s a pleasant date movie, but I don’t see it finding a home on the shelf next to “Remember the Titans” or “Pursuit of Happyness.”