WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Gus (Clint Eastwood) is a cantankerous old baseball scout, nearing the end of his contract with the Atlanta Braves.
The team owner (Robert Patrick) is sympathetic to the new approach of selecting players by getting computers to analyse their game statistics, but Gus insists on travelling the country to watch – and listen – to the best young players.
He’s determined to keep working and certainly won’t let anything as trivial as failing eyesight stop him.
As the draft deadline is approaching, all the top teams are trying to sign the cocky Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill) and scouts from across the country descend on his sleepy town to watch his last few days in the minors before deciding whether he deserves a shot in the big time. Among the other scouts is Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a former player, once picked by Gus himself, but who had to quit because of an injury.
The Braves’ general manager and Gus’ longtime friend and champion Pete (John Goodman) is worried about him travelling alone with so much at stake and persuades Gus’ high-flying lawyer daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to accompany him.
She’s pushing for promotion – he’s determined to remain independent – this is not a recipe for father-daughter bonding, but it is a recipe for a gentle, by-the-numbers Hollywood drama.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
With a cast including Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and John Goodman, you might be expecting something impressive. Instead, you get something inoffensive but uninspiring.
Trouble with the Curve ticks all the boxes for a formulaic film – father-daughter tensions, family-career tensions, technology-people tensions, ageing gracefully, a slimey boyfriend back home versus a charming Mr Perfect in the bleachers.
The film does nothing wrong, but it does nothing exciting or original. It’s one of the least exciting sports films you’ll see, because it’s not really about sport – it’s about all the other things that Hollywood loves so much.
The most interesting sporting element is the way Trouble with the Curve works as a counterbalance to last year’s Moneyball – that was about how baseball scouts could be replaced by a computer programme, while this is about how no computer programme can be as effective as a baseball scout who really knows the game.
Eastwood is playing the gruff old man again, Goodman is filling the chubby best friend role, Adams is the put-upon daughter who realises that her grumpy old dad is more important than her grumpy old bosses and Timberlake meets the woman of his dreams in the most unexpected place.
The trouble with the Trouble with the Curve is that it’s a bunch of familiar caricatures following a familiar formula, from the first frame to the last, yet somehow, the final act manages to manipulate the audience and deliver an uplifting and slightly unexpected twist. While little surprises along the way, Eastwood’s protege Lorenz does manage to throw a bit of a curve-ball at the bottom of the ninth.