‘Trouble with the Curve’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated September 26th, 2014 at 3:59 am,

Amy Adams Clint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve Trouble with the Curve Review

Following a successful string of award winning films, it’s been hard to find Hollywood veteran Clint Eastwood starring in a movie that he wasn’t also directing. In fact, In the Line of Fire (1993) was the last Eastwood starring project that was directed by a different person (Wolfgang Petersen). Over the last decade alone, the helmer has directed nine feature films – with starring roles in two of them. As a result, when moviegoers heard the acclaimed writer/director/actor/producer would once again appear on the silver screen in Trouble with the Curve, many assumed Eastwood was in the director’s chair.

Eastwood still serves as a producer on the project, but Trouble with the Curve marks the feature debut of Robert Lorenz – who holds producer and/or assistant director credits on several critically lauded Eastwood films including Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and True Crime, among others. Despite an impressive resume, is Lorenz able to deliver a feature film worthy of the starring onscreen talent – which, in addition to Eastwood, includes performances from Amy Adams (The Fighter), John Goodman (The Artist), and Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)?

In spite of a few missteps and mostly familiar story beats, Trouble with the Curve is a solid film offering for baseball fans and movie lovers alike. The core narrative, penned by newcomer Randy Brown, presents a competent platform for strong performances from nearly every single person involved – even if certain plot points don’t resonate with the level of intended impact. Lorenz definitely draws on prior Eastwood movies (especially the pseudo-parent relationship in Million Dollar Baby) as well as riffs on prior father/daughter disconnect films for inspiration in his onscreen proceedings – but the characters and moment to moment drama are compelling enough to overlook any similarities.

Amy Adams Clint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve Movie Trouble with the Curve Review

Amy Adams (Mickey) and Clint Eastwood (Gus) in ‘Trouble with the Curve’

The core Trouble with the Curve storyline follows Gus Lobel, an aging and rough around the edges baseball scout who, stricken with deteriorating eyesight, is finding it increasingly difficult to drive a car or prepare a meal at home – let alone sit in the bleachers and spot on-field shortcomings in potential first round draft picks. Considered a relic in the age of computerized player statistics, the Atlanta Braves send Lobel to scout a hotshot hitter out of North Carolina. Noticing Lobel’s declining health, longtime friend Pete Klein (Goodman) convinces the scout’s estranged daughter, Mickey (Adams), to take a break from her lawyer day job and return to the baseball fields she grew up on – traveling with her father one last time. In an effort to help Gus avoid a forced retirement, Mickey agrees but soon has to come face to face with her own personal challenge in the form of pitcher-turned-scout, Johnny (Timberlake).

Eastwood is at home in the lead role – as he’s mostly playing a variation of characters that we’ve seen before. This isn’t to say that the veteran actor is phoning in his performance – grumpy and silver haired Gus Lobel just isn’t a role that is likely to surprise audiences or show a new angle of Eastwood’s repertoire. The opening act of the film is particularly on-the-nose as Lorenz attempts to set the stakes for Gus, and despite a competent effort from Eastwood, is a bit too heavy-handed – resting on a batch of stilted scenes to establish the main players. That said, over time Lorenz is able to unearth more layers in Gus and the character gives us a number of memorable moments – especially as the plot progresses and he’s forced to balance his predispositions with his current (read: aging) circumstances.

The supporting cast is equally enjoyable. Certain movie fans will no doubt balk at any film that includes an appearance by Timberlake, but as he did in his Social Network role, the musician/actor continues to flourish in his dramatic work. Johnny in Trouble with the Curve is no different – and Timberlake is a very welcome breath of levity in a movie that relies heavily on Eastwood’s crotchety scowl. Adams, as Mickey Lobel, is equally enjoyable – shouldering most of the film’s emotional weight and complexity. The actress actually pulls double-duty – depicting a guarded but capable woman who, as the film develops, shivers with nervous energy in an attempt to keep her emotions bottled up. Moviegoers might expect the Gus arc to hog the spotlight but Mickey’s evolution steals the show.

Justin Timberlake Trouble with the Curve Movie Trouble with the Curve Review

Justin Timberlake (Johnny ‘The Flame’) in ‘Trouble with the Curve’

In spite of the baseball angle, and numerous nods to longtime sport fans, many audience members will have no trouble recognizing “common” story set-ups (most of which are not as effective as their filmic predecessors) and for many, it’ll be easy to “predict” how the various threads will ultimately play out. However, while the story and the underlying motivations of the characters aren’t quite as unique, profound, or hard-hitting as Lorenz might have intended, Trouble with the Curve still presents plenty of entertaining and rewarding drama.

In an industry where a flashy trailer or slick poster can significantly inflate box numbers for an undeserving film (see The Apparition), Trouble with the Curve is exactly what potential viewers probably expect – a dependable character story. The project walks a smart line between the intricacies of its baseball storyline and room for its talented cast to deliver captivating character drama – resulting in an enjoyable albeit familiar time at the movies. Trouble with the Curve isn’t likely to win Lorenz the same accolades as prior efforts from his star/producer but, nonetheless, its a solid debut feature and one that will likely have viewers looking forward to the filmmaker’s next effort.

If you’re still on the fence about Trouble with the Curve, check out the trailer below:

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Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Trouble with the Curve is Rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5
(Good)

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TAGS: trouble with the curve

27 Comments

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  1. Does the Empty Chair have a role in the movie? No. I’ll wait for video then. ;)

    • @Kevin

      Unfortunately his apperance in the RNC probably has more of an effect on this movie’s RT score than the merits of the actual movie. Typial liberal Hollywood punishing anyone who doesn’t pander to the left…

      • Don’t you think that the RT score is like that because its an average movie?

        • @Jose

          Just read some of the reviews. I’m not saying it should be at like 90% or anything, I would think this movie would pull somewhere around a 70%, but it’s much less than that and if you read some of the reviews you’ll see for yourself… A lot of them seem to focus on their dislike for Clint’s involvement with the GOP.

          • A bunch of reviews I’ve read do mention it, but its not their main focus. And I wrote that when I looked at the RT score and it was in the high 60s, now its in the 50s, so I kind of see what you mean.

            I think its silly though, I’m a liberal, but I wasn’t in anyway bothered by what Eastwood did at the GOP convention. The way I see it, everyone has different viewpoints, and different ways of expressing them, he shouldn’t be thought of less for what he did. So I think its embarrassing if there are critics that are doing just that.

            I must admit though, I’m not interested in ever seeing this film (even if Amy Adams is the most likable person onscreen alive) I just really hate sports films.

            • @Jose

              Except this is pretty much not a sports film at all…

              Yah they talk baseball, but it’s not like you’re watching a team’s journey to win the world series or something. You sound like my friend, if sports are in any way mentioned in a movie he will not see it… Oh well, his loss…

              • LOL, yeah that’s basically me.

              • This movie sucked. Totally unrealistic and cliche for the sake of trying to make the audience go “aaawww”

      • I concur, Ken. I was concerned for Clint after he made his appearance at the GOP convention, as I feared the leftists in Hollyweird would blacklist and shun him, but hey, he is Clint! He’s pretty much done everything there is to do in that town, and I am sure he could give a rat’s a– what they think of him there. He is truly one of the last living legends in show business.

  2. Eastwood is one of the finest actors with a history in cinema that will have him remembered as a legend for generations to come.
    Eastwoood’s biggest issue with his legacy is when is he going to realize that he is in his 80′s and has lost his touch at the quality film making that he used to be able to deliver?

    Gran Torino aside, which was a good movie even though it was boring as heck, he has not mad any noteworthy film in years. I know screenrant gave Hereafter a good review but imo and most of the audience’s that movie was total junk. As were his movies afterward.

    Don’t mean to hate on the guy because he’s a great actor and was a great director but you need to just hang it up

    People that see this issue reoccuring for:
    Sylvester Stallone

  3. Well, it’s Clint. I would have to see this even if it were not good.
    I’m happy to see that it is and pretty much what I was expecting.
    That is the usual with Clint Eastwood — you get what you expect.

    There is the thought too that any film he is starring in may be his last.
    Not so much that he may ride off into the sunset but rather fade away.

    Every look evokes memories of prior roles and with this movie
    there is the backstop of baseball bringing its own memories too.

    As kids we used to hang out at Yankee Stadium behind the old bleacher
    entrance and after about the 3rd inning the guards would let us sneak in.
    By the 6th inning we could move and be sitting in the best empty box seats.

    They were the best years of my life looking back, when joy was a given
    and hope was assumed. Baseball was my game too growing up and
    I played college ball until a separated shoulder took its toll.
    The field will always be a field of dreams for me.

    • @Robert

      I saw the movie in an advanced screening. I’ll have to disagree with this review a little, I think it definitely deserves 4 stars. Sure the movie was “predictable” but honestly, I didn’t spend a single moment trying to “predict” the ending since this is not that kind of movie where it depends on some big twist in the end to “shock” you into liking it. It’s a character story about a woman and her father and their relationship. I thought Amy Adams was fantastic and Clint was, well, Clint, so I really enjoyed it for what it was. And even though I’m not a father yet myself, I really empathize with the kinds of conflicts depicted in this movie where a woman is strong and independent on the outside but on the inside she’s sad and longing for her father’s love and attention. It really pulled at my heart to see her suffering in the movie. And it’s more effective because she’s not just some cry-baby in the movie…

      I recommend the movie. And if you’re a Terminator fan, I’ll have to tell you that one of my favorite things about the movie is seeing the T1000 terminate someone, lol. You’ll see what I mean if you watch the movie. :-D

      • I appreciate your impressions, Kenneth.
        I too am not a father but I can empathize
        as well with the relationships. I will enjoy this.

        The casting seems especially well-suited and I
        guess I will start to take Timberlake seriously.
        And there is Clint here, an all-time champ.

  4. The wife saw this movie this morning with some friends because I figured it looked like a chick flick. She called me right after and said it was horrible which was surprising. They ended up walking out close to the end saying the movie is boring, predictable, and you could barely understand what Clint was saying. She compared him to the Bane voice which cracked me up, LOL. So I asked if it was more of a guy movie if that’s why they didn’t like it. “No, it’s a chick flick but it’s just boring. It took too long to get to the point and when it did you already figured out the whole movie”. Sounds like another fail for Eastwood which is starting to get sad now

    • Another fail? What bad movie has he made? This guy is more committed to quality film than 90 percent Hollywood.

    • @Jared

      Not to be sexist, but you took the word of a bunch of women during a girls’ night out?? I’m sure they loved The Vow and Magic Mike. Perhaps you should go check those movies out…

      • I did see the Vow and I rather enjoyed it. I did eventually go see this movie with my brother because he’s a Eastwood fan. The movie was okay but not great. I do think that since Invictus his quality of movies has gone down. Hereafter was bad and J. Edgar was also okay but boring. Now do I think this movie is a step above Hereafter? Yes, but is it to the level that Eastwood has done in the past? No.

    • Eastwood in a chick flick, r u sure about that?

      • Well, he did do The Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep several years back.

        And we recently had Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs, so its possible.

        • Yeh you right i forgot about The Bridges of Madison County. I’m a dude but i still loved that movie

  5. No disrespect to anyone who doesn’t care for the movie or Eastwood’s performance in it, but I fully expect to see much tsk-tsking and head patting and ‘isn’t it a shame how he’s diminished’ completely out of proportion to his, or the films weaknesses. He went against conformity in a world that won’t tolerate dissent.

    Full disclosure: I am strictly apolitical and have no favorites in that arena, but I’ve seen how quickly icons become doddering has-beens or history is revised and they become never-weres too often to expect any difference here. Well, except rather than outright hatred I expect a lot of ‘so sad’. Maybe he will fare better but I doubt it.

  6. The “man with no name”, Dirty Harry, Josey Wales, Private Kelly, Gunny Highway, William Munny, Philo Beddoe, Walt Kowalski…has anyone played more “cool” characters in the movies and done a better job at it? I think not. Clint, for me, you always have been and always will be the man!

  7. Here’s a great existential review of this movie by a whacked out Finnish film critic…

    Google: Trouble With The Curve and Kimmo Mustonenen

  8. Haven’t seen this yet, but I must say that #1, Justin Timberlake should be an accepted actor at this point. He has a great energy, and the fact he’s in this movie should give future movie directors a heads-up, he’s for real. And this is soooo not an ad, but there was a great article in Esquire this month about Clint Eastwood, gives a great perspective on him. I am a big fan of his, despite his appearance at the RNC lol, and I love baseball. Sounds like screenrant gave an accurate review, and I’ll definitely go see this, despite other women walking out “bored”. Short attention spans, anyone? :)

  9. This is going to sound funny, but the only reason I didnt see this film is
    Because since I have not updated preescription for my glasses in awhile
    I just couldnt see a movie about Clint and his eye problems when I was straining a bit myself!
    Going to update my glases and try for next weekend .

  10. Check out these two OLD-school Hollywood veterans and see if they have Trouble with the Curve?

  11. I enjoyed the movie and think Eastwood played the role very well. I don’t think this type of movie could have been done much better and relate to the audience it was after. All in all, a good date movie that you can bring the kids to.