Baseball scout Gus (Clint Eastwood) has a long and successful career, but when his eyesight starts failing, his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) takes a break from her career to help him. As the two travel between high school baseball games, the issues in their relationship come to light. As well as this, Mickey finds companionship with a rival scout, Johnny (Justin Timberlake).
Trouble with the Curve is a strange sort of movie. Clint Eastwood came out of retirement – as an actor – to star in the film, and it is the first time since 1993 that he has starred in a film that he has not directed. Like last year’s Moneyball, it seems that Trouble with the Curve is directed at a very specific audience, but unlike Moneyball, it takes advantage of the relationships between the characters.
Eastwood is on his usual gruff and grumpy form as Gus and, like many people who are getting older, he refuses to accept his limitations. Eastwood does nothing in this film that we have not seen him do before, but the scenes where he talks to his bladder, a table and says a bottle of beer will not argue with him are awkwardly reminiscent of his mis-step at the Republcan National Convention earlier this year.
Amy Adams plays Mickey as a career driven woman who has always been desperate to please her father. That said, Mickey is also as stubborn and gruff as her father, which leads to a complete lack of communication. The relationships between Eastwood and Adams is believable but it feels as though the latter is wasted in her role as she is not allowed to stretch herself at all.
Justin Timberlake plays some eye candy who is also stubborn in his way, but he also acts as a much needed buffer between father and daughter. Timberlake is more likeable than he was in The Social Network, but no better or worse. He’s fine, but that’s about all.
The story, written by Randy Brown, feels a little generic. This is a family brought together by baseball, but it could just have easily been anything else; ice-cream, a launderette… Anything. There are moments of charm in the film, but they are few and far between and, by the time any emotional interests are brought to the fore, it may be too late to redeem an audience who have mentally checked out.
Director Robert Lorenz has had a long and illustrious career as a producer, but this is his first foray into directing. He does fine with the more experienced of the three leads – in fact, at times it feels as though Eastwood and Adams are directing themselves – but Justin Timberlake it the one who suffers the most. Eastwood and Adams occasionally venture into hammy territory, but Timberlake just comes of as persistent but bland.
In all, Trouble with the Curve is a film that is ideal for American audiences around the time of Thanksgiving. As for the rest of the world, we may struggle to find a reason to care about a dysfunctional family and a father who clearly never wanted a daughter. The performances are the best thing about the film but they are not enough to carry this oddly paced and over long film.