Longtime Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) is sent to look at a potential first round draft pick while under scrutiny himself for his old school ways of evaluating players. His best friend and boss Pete Klein (John Goodman) convinces Gus’ estranged lawyer daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to join him on the trip, positive she’ll be able to add her own two cents while also making sure her father is still working at the top of his game. When a scout (Justin Timberlake) from a rival organization, a former player Gus once scouted, arrives complications ensue, especially after he takes a liking to Mickey and she to him.
Here’s what I wrote about this one in my theatrical review:
“I’m having a hard time trying to write a review of longtime Clint Eastwood producing partner Robert Lorenz’s directorial debut Trouble with the Curve. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but more because the movie is so gosh darn nice I feel sort of bad that I didn’t like it all that very much. A handsome film, beautifully and classically lensed by the great Tom Stern (The Hunger Games) and meticulously edited by Oscar-winner Joel Cox (Unforgiven) and Gary Roach (J. Edgar), acted with grace and flair by its all-star cast of professionals, the simple truth is that this anti-Moneyball just isn’t very good, Randy Brown’s unimaginative and supercilious script striking out at the plate each and every time it comes up to bat.
And that’s the rub. I liked everyone in this movie. I liked the way it looked. I liked the way it moved. Heck, I even liked the fact Eastwood decided not to wear sixteen different hats in order to focus on his performance and allowed composer Marco Beltrami (The Hurt Locker) to compose an elegant, somewhat ethereal score uniquely his own. I never hated my time sitting in the theatre watching the darn thing, individual moments here and there even bringing a winsome smile to my face I’m perfectly okay talking about.
But that script. I almost don’t know where to begin. It’s almost like Eastwood and Lorenz were so obsessed with finding fault with the baseball metrics put forth as gospel by Moneyball that they allowed newcomer Brown to write whatever he gosh darn wanted to just as long as he made sure to focus, at least somewhat, on the idea that real baseball scouts know everything while computers shouldn’t be trusted. They put their own beliefs and desires ahead of the actual narrative, and in the process allowed him to put forth a treacle-laden sophomoric spectacle of angst and melodrama reeking of cliché right from the opening pitch.
The basic story is a family-friendly saga of aging Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) on the verge of being put out to pasture by the organization thanks to the overzealous push of young gun, computer metrics obsessed executive Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard). Sent to look at a potential number one draft pick, best friend and head of Braves’ scouting Pete Klein (John Goodman) manages to convince Gus’ estranged lawyer daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to join him on the trip, the two getting an opportunity to reconnect and bond decades of absence and neglect have never allowed for.
Never mind that she’s in the middle of a case that could lead to partnership in her law firm, in the world that Brown, Lorenz and company have created it makes full sense that she would let all that fall to the wayside in order to make sure her father is okay. Throw in Justin Timberlake as a former major league pitcher Gus once scouted whose career was derailed by injury now trying to cut it as a scout for a rival organization and couple that with the fact the dude they’re all in North Carolina to look at is a selfish malcontent undeserving of the spotlight and the seeds for relatively routine melodrama are all in place.
Yet with a cast like this, with behind-the-scenes technical talent boasting multiple Academy Awards and numerous nominations, it’s hard not to find enjoyment in at least some of what is going on here. Eastwood, basically doing the suitable for all-ages version of Walt Kowalski, the foul-mouthed heart-of-gold racist from Gran Torino, is as magnetic as ever, while Timberlake, Goodman, Lillard, Robert Patrick and others all lend commendable support. The belle of the ball, however, is Adams, and to say she doesn’t hit a homer in virtually every scene she appears is close to an understatement. Collectively, they’re all terrific together, and if the movie could be taken apart and watched only as individual scenes I’m sure I wouldn’t be near as disappointed as I frustratingly am.
All of which brings me back to the script. If you thought Disney’s 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield was syrupy, wait until you get a load of the baloney doled out by Brown and company during the final 15 or 20 minutes of this. It’s one head-slapper after another, all of it indelicately foreshadowed early on making its eventual appearance all the more painful because of it. Things become so hackneyed, so herky-jerky, so agonizingly self-important and maudlin, I was borderline flabbergasted, and with each swing and a miss I found myself wanting to steal remaining kernels of popcorn from the guy in the seat next to me so I’d have something to throw at the screen.
Yet, as I said at the start, so much of the film is so gosh darn nice, so freakishly friendly and amiable, I feel like I’m being some sort of heartless cretin for coming down as hard on it as I obviously am. Be that as it may, the truth is that, for as polite as the movie might be, for as immaculately put together as it all is and as wonderfully acted as the majority of it tends to be, that script is close to an abomination making Trouble with a Curve a slow pitch to nowhere not even Babe Ruth himself would be interested in trying to hit.”
I really like Amy Adams in this movie. She’s terrific. I also adored more than a few scenes, most of them happening between her and Eastwood, their one-on-one moments filled with tenderly realized emotions that manage to break through the schmaltz and treacle and resonate in a way the rest of the movie does not. All of this was amplified during my Blu-ray watch of the movie, and I have to admit because of this I found Trouble with the Curve far less interminable at home than I did in the theatre.
But I HATE the ending. With a passion. It’s horrific, quickly transforming a passably entertaining motion picture into a risible abomination I wanted to shake my fist in prolonged frustration at. I can suspend disbelief, I like heartwarming denouements as much as the next girl, and when done well I’m more than willing to allow a bit of melodramatic self-indulgence to get the better of me.
It isn’t done well here; not even remotely. The ending is so false, so innately unrealistic, so beyond idiotic, it makes all that came before seem far worse and undeniably fake than it actually is. With that being the case I cannot recommend Trouble with the Curve, and even as much as I enjoyed the performances and was captivated be singular moments here and there that climax has me thinking this otherwise harmless movie might just end up on my list of the worst films of 2012.
Trouble with the Curve is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.40:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and features optional English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Not a lot of extras, only two featurettes (Rising Through the Ranks, For the Love of the Game) filling out the selection of special features included with this release. Together, the pair barely run over ten minutes combined and neither actually adds that much to the conversation. Still, they’re hardly terrible, and as typical EPK-style behind-the-scenes fodder is concerned each featurette manages to get the job done and will likely keep fans of the film moderately content.
The Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray looks great and sounds terrific, so from a technical standpoint Warner Bros. has done a fine job with this release. However, because of the ending I cannot in good conscience recommend it but I do understand fans of the actors, especially Eastwood, will want to give it a look no matter what I say. Rent it first, though, because even though I managed to get through the film a second time it’s doubtful very many viewers, even if they like it, are going to feel compelled to watch it more than once.