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“Trouble with the Curve” – Early Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

September 20, 2012

It’s been a year since the Oscar nominated baseball drama “Moneyball” was released; now we follow in this 2012 awards season with yet another dramatic ballpark story starring the grisly old Clint Eastwood in “Trouble with the Curve”.  It’s funny, both these films share common parallels, besides the fact that they’re baseball movies; both films have their strong points and lows, trouble is it’s the opposite when you compare the two. “Moneyball” is certainly the more superior film, but where “Trouble with the Curve” fails to captivate it makes up for in its strong sturdy cast.

Gus (Eastwood) is a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves; he’s been working in this industry for a long long time. With old age catching up to in the midst of his contract expiring in the three months, Gus is bestowed with eye problems; he can’t see the baseball go over home plate. Gus doesn’t believe in seeking help, he’s too prideful and stubborn, but with a last chance opportunity makes its way to Gus, that will send him to North Carolina, seeking out a high school star of a ballplayer, his emotionally distant daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) joins him without telling, to help him and possibly find a way to reconnect with her hermit-like parent.

The movie has a strong cast, it’s very clear here. At Eastwood’s age he can still leave you laughing, smiling, fearful, and quiet at any given moment. Say what you will about his recent political stance, but he’s Clint f-ing Eastwood! Dirty Harry! The pairing between him and Adams is a great match. You see Amy Adams in so many roles where she’s the innocent in a way and having her play the daughter of a Clint Eastwood character leaves her room to be more versatile. Justin Timberlake pops up here, continuing to prove that he can be a terrific supporting player in a drama (“The Social Network”, “Alpha Dogs”), but hasn’t found that element to be a strong leading man (“In Time”). The cast also includes John Goodman, Robert Patrick, and Matthew Lillard; I for one would like to see Lillard, who was last seen in the Oscar winner “The Descendants”, be in bigger dramatic roles.

Back to the “Moneyball” comparison, both films are about scouting players, while “Moneyball” endorsed the use of computer’s analyzing the statistics of the player, this film totally negates that change. A computer cannot read a mans face or a mans instincts, Gus exclaims this defense in the beginning of the film, but he’s not really making much of an impact on me, since “Moneyball’s” Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) was a much more cathartic and passionate figure. Now what “Trouble with the Curve” gets right, that “Moneyball” barely scratched the surface on, was the father/daughter relationship. “Curve” is led by a story about a broken relationship between a father and daughter, and while the film does take the necessary clichés, loss the mother/wife to leaving the two alone created tension between the two, then the film comes to a point where you don’t really see coming, at least I didn’t. And, I sat there asking myself, ‘Was this really appropriate for a movie like this?’ Gus & Mickey’s realization might’ve been a little too extreme, making a sort of tonal shift, but it doesn’t show off to much to make it unsettling from there on out.

The movie wasn’t bad; it was pretty basic in terms of story arc between a conflicted family, romance, and baseball. As stories goes, it’s not the greatest in the world, but it does its job. The real success here is the cast, and what they’re given to work with is the real miracle here. It really benefits from Clint Eastwood’s charisma and his chemistry with the lovely Amy Adams.

GRADE: B-

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