'Trouble with the Curve' throws too many curves

atomictown.comSeptember 21, 2012 

Clint Eastwood is Gus, an aging scout for baseball's Atlanta Braves. But he's going blind.

Eyesight problems are a real hazard when you need to see how young baseball players play. Gus's daughter Mickey -- done nicely by Amy Adams -- is a lawyer.

Their relationship is intriguing. She does everything but file a lawsuit to get him to open up to her. He's more emotionally wound-up than a batter struggling with a high, inside fastball. In line for a partnership at a prestigious law firm, Mickey pauses during a critical case and opts to help her going-blind dad scout an important find.

Mickey grew up around baseball and knows more about the game than most. While on the trip, Mickey meets Justin Timberlake's Johnny. He serves as the film's love interest. Johnny is a scout for the Boston Red Sox. At one time, Johnny was a hot pitching prospect and a Gus discovery so the two men have a rich friendship.

All of this is wrapped around the love of baseball.

Kudos to writer Randy Brown, whose first screenplay is the polar opposite of Brad Pitt's hit baseball flick Moneyball. His story is critical of how computers and mathematicians run the game and decide who gets picked and who doesn't. The system forgets that baseball is a game of little things. Intangibles can't be charted on a computer.

Unfortunately, while central to the plot, how players are picked isn't the focus.

The acting is superb. Eastwood said he would not act again after Gran Torino made him the oldest actor to reach No. 1 at the box office. I'm speculating he agreed to appear in this one as a favor to first-time director Robert Lorenz, who has been an Eastwood assistant director since 1995.

Unfortunately, Lorenz didn't learn more about the art of storytelling from his former boss. He struggles to give the story a focal point. Lorenz's film is choppy, and sometimes in conversation scenes his editing makes Eastwood and the other characters appear as if they are talking to Eastwood's now famous empty chair.

Here's the final score. While few flicks offer as much entertainment as a baseball movie, Trouble with the Curve is like so many Seattle Mariners games on TV -- major-league slow. There are just too many curves and not enough fastballs.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Director: Robert Lorenz

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, language. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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