"Feels like something we've all seen a thousand times before..."
Lead role Clint Eastwood may not have directed this particular feature – handing the reins over to his protégé Robert Lorenz – but Trouble With the Curve feels like your typical Eastwood production. Impressively performed and well-constructed this may be, but on the whole it's really bloody boring.
Eastwood plays Gus, a veteran baseball scout who, despite his enthusiasm for the job, is being threatened with an early retirement, as the ailing octogenarian widower is suffering from problems with his eyesight. In a bid to prove his worth and repay the faith put in him from his boss and lifelong friend Pete (John Goodman), Gus travels to North Carolina to scout promising newcomer Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill).
However what Gus hadn't planned for, is that Pete has persuaded his friend's successful lawyer daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to aid her father on his trip. Along the way they meet Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a former prospect of Gus', and a love interest for Mickey, and someone who could help assist in the rebuilding of the faltering relationship between the stubborn father, and his fastidious daughter.
When a film is effectively based around baseball – one of the less popular sports in this country – you need a sharp, witty script to help move the film along at a fast pace, like Moneyball, for instance. However this is exactly where Trouble With the Curve falters, unable to shake off its irksome tendencies. So many lines are delivered with more weight than needs be, like a comedian with a bad joke who builds up to, and emphasises his punchline in the hope that people will laugh at the delivery. If you make words sound like they may be important, perhaps people will think they are. Essentially, the actors are trying to do the best they can with an otherwise lacklustre screenplay.
Where you can't fault this picture, however, is within the performances, as Eastwood takes on his first acting role since Gran Torino, four years ago. Once again he plays an aggravated, bitter and weary elderly man. Perhaps he's trying to tell us something. Meanwhile, Adams is fantastic as always, although that has become something of a foregone conclusion as far as this actress is concerned. Timberlake is also impressive, portraying the charisma and charm that has seen him forge quite a career for himself in Hollywood. However, in a sense such charisma almost seems wasted on this film, as compared to the other characters – mostly angry old pensioners quietly scouting away – it seems like he's almost overdoing it.
In what is a mostly forgettable feature, Trouble With the Curve is a very Hollywood take on family dynamics, with a predictable, prosaic sound track, various supposedly witty one-liners, and a horrible inclination to tie up all loose ends. Oh, and of course the inevitable romantic sub plot that bears absolutely no relevance whatsoever. It just feels like something we've all seen a thousand times before.