You’re going to hear that Trouble with the Curve is a fine little film, one that’s entertaining enough for audiences in general. And I’ll agree that it is. After all, it stars Clint Eastwood who is one of the greatest move stars of all time. It’s also a baseball movie, which seems to appeal to audiences far better than other sports related films. Add in a lovely Amy Adams and an extremely popular Justin Timberlake and it would appear as if you have a recipe for box office success. However, I would suggest that “generally fine” entertainment just isn’t enough any more, and that light-handed film criticism isn’t fair to the average movie-goer who spends a lot of money to be entertained on what may be their one and only outing on a well-deserved weekend. What it comes down to is that this film wouldn’t be worth the price of admission without the stars, and it barely achieves that status with the performances provided.
I will say that I enjoyed Trouble with the Curve. But then, I got to see it for free. I see a lot of movies that way and it’s a good thing too because more often than not I walk out of a screening grateful that I didn’t have to pay for it. That’s kind of the way I felt about this film – not completely, but close enough to make me wonder why critics in general have been a little easy on the tough analysis. Perhaps it’s because of Eastwood. His presence does make up for a lot of things like a weak script, two dimensional supporting characters and direction that shows the signs of a first timer. The story itself is something you would usually see on Lifetime or produced by Hallmark. That’s not a knock on either of those two production companies; it’s just that this is not a feature film script and should have been reserved for the proper format.
It’s a nice tale about a baseball scout who appears to have aged out of his profession (not a very dynamic plot for the big screen). When a well-meaning colleague realizes his friend may be in jeopardy of losing his job he contacts the estranged daughter (a very clichéd and typical device). Although she is up for a big promotion she drops everything and hits the road with her dad in order to surreptitiously help him through his last season of scouting (there is no motivation provided for this action other than the ties that bind – Hallmark!). Along the way they encounter a friendly young scout for an opposing team who forms a friendship with the dad and a romantic attachment to the daughter (I’ll give this one to Lifetime). While the older scout is gruff and stubborn, the daughter struggles with issues of abandonment when a child, and the young love interest is charming (it’s a tie on this one). The trouble comes when unbeknownst to anyone the franchise the father works for has sent another scout out to keep an eye on things. This causes resentment and discontent for everyone and leaves all of the relationships in jeopardy. See what I mean?
I’m not against simple tales about our aging society when they’re told well. I absolutely loved The Straight Story! But that’s the catch – they have to be told, presented and executed well. You can’t just pick an all right tale, put in some big name actors and hope that that will be enough to cover up whatever flaws may exist. That’s just lazy and a horrible way of cheating the audience who have come to expect a certain level of quality from their favorite stars. They deserve more. So for all the appeal of the major talent offered by Trouble with the Curve I just can’t recommend it. Not for the theater any way. Wait for it to come out on DVD when you can see it on the screen it’s best suited for: the TV screen.