From what I can tell, Trouble With The Curve seems to have snuck up out of nowhere. It is Clint Eastwood‘s first acting role in four years, and the first time he has acted in a movie he also wasn’t directing since 1993!
It is quite understandable that he is slowing down, right now clocking in at 82 years old and generally can only play the “mean old man” roles at this point, which doesn’t give him much diversity. But what does it mean that he is willing to act in a movie he has no control over? I guess he believes in that film’s message.
This is a shot of Clint Eastwood doing whatever the fuck he wants.
Eastwood plays Gus, a scout for the Atlanta Braves baseball team. He is a pretty big name in the scouting world, signing some of the greats and having an incredible eye and ear for future potential. Unfortunately, his wife died almost thirty years ago, when their daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) was only five years old.
Not being one for emotions (he is Clint Eastwood, after all!) Gus has had a strained relationship with his daughter throughout the years. Originally sending her off to live with her aunt/uncle, he began to take her on the road with her for about six years. She learned a lot about baseball, scouting, and potential, but when she hit 13 she was sent to boarding school (and later college, and law school), with barely any contact with her dad.
Mickey is now an associate lawyer, close to reaching a Partnership, making her both the youngest partner ever, and only female to have done it. But there is competition, and problems at home. Gus has problems with his prostate, and his body seems to be failing him. Most notably, his eyes. What good is a scout that can’t see the prospects? Mickey is convinced by Pete Klein (John Goodman), the head of Braves scouting to head out with her dad to North Carolina to check out Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), a potential future star in the MLB. The Braves have the number 2 overall pick, so if the Red Sox pass, they can nab Bo, but they have to make sure it is the real deal!
While in NC, we are given the perfect storm of dramatic potential. An aging man, going blind, too stubborn to care, and unwilling to tell his organization as his contract is coming up. A daughter, who wants nothing more than to talk with her father and finally clear the air with some of their issues. Coniving young people with fancy computers (Matthew Lillard) trying to take over the scouting department without even leaving the office. Not to mention a former pitcher that Gus signed for the Braves, who had his career end early, and is now scouting Bo for the Red Sox and scouting Mickey for himself (Justin Timberlake).
Also, there is some baseball in this movie as well.
The first thing I noticed about this movie is that it felt like the anti-Moneyball. Moneyball is a true story about how different advanced statistics could be used to determine players better than the old stats and ways of scouting. Trouble With The Curve is about how computers don’t know a thing and that the only good way of scouting is by being there in person watching them play.
The obvious real life answer is that both parts are important, computers can’t predict how a players hands move during a swing, or if they have trouble with certain situations, or their ability to bounce back. But to ignore computer stats completely is also ridiculous.
I think the movie had a good idea behind it, but didn’t execute it to its full potential. One scene early on, involving Eastwood singing “You Are My Sunshine” is one of the saddest things in awhile. It made me cry, and I thought I was in for a depressing movie. But it lets off from that sad feeling and just kind of rides neutral until the end of the film, with a happy ending and everything getting resolved. One plot point that they were clearly building towards early in the film was then ignored and brought back by the end, seemingly forced and not natural.
I will say the film had some great acting, but the way they got their point across at the end didn’t flow as well as I’d have liked.
2 out of 4.