I'm sure all of you out there, at one point or another, saw a very specific kind of a movie - the film that's isn't bad per se but while everything should work in theory, it's just boring and forgettable. The problem with Trouble with the Curve is just that - it's cliche chasing cliche and though the story is sweet and actors well suited for their job, the film is quite simply the most generic movie of 2012. And no matter how hard Eastwood and Adams are trying, they can only do so much with the mediocre script.
Despite his plans to retire, Clint Eastwood returned to acting for this movie. It's a great thing because he plays this kind of character - old, grumpy bad ass - really well, but it's a shame the movie isn't better. Eastwood plays Gus, a guy who chooses players for baseball team. That's the extent of my knowledge of baseball, so that's as specific as I can be. The film is a little bit like anti-thesis of last year's terrific Moneyball, where it was the computer program that chose the players. Here Gus and his best friend Pete (played by John Goodman, in another best friend you wished you have role) insist that you can't calculate something like that in computer and it's people who should choose players.
All of that is shown to us so that we would start worrying about Gus's career - the people who choose players are becoming younger and there is of course head jerk (played by Matthew Liliard who always plays people like that and without exception - he is always incredibly forgettable) wants to get rid of Gus. Even worse - Gus starts having problems with his eyes. So concerned Pete seeks help with Gus's daughter.
Enter Mickey (Amy Adams). She is driven, fierce and intelligent attorney well on her way to partnership. She doesn't have any family but Gus and though their relationship isn't perfect, it is clear that there is a lot of love and care there. Gus obviously loves his daughter and she loves him too, but there is a lot of resentment and anger in her towards her father. The problem with Mickey's character is how inconsistently she is written - on one hand we are supposed to believe she is this strong woman who doesn't need family or a boyfriend and she is focused on her career. Yet in another scene the director and the writer ask poor Adams to weep and tremble like a scared little girl as she confesses that she was in therapy because her daddy abandoned her for a year when she was a small child.
After talking with Pete and calling Gus's doctor, Mickey decides to stay with Gus for a while, putting her life on hold. Gus is less than thrilled about it, as he wants his daughter to get the partnership which is her dream. Mickey insists on staying and at the moment we see Justin Timberlake's Johnny, the guy who knows Gus and does something related to baseball (again, as specific as I can be), we know exactly how this story will go, especially since as soon as Johnny sees Mickey eloquent "woah" comes out of his mouth.
So we now have two stories - one- tale of daughter and father trying to spend some time together and support each other in spite of obstacles, which is pretty tired movie storyline to begin with - but to make matters worse we also get this unconvincing romance where the strong woman realizes that pursuing her career and her dreams is stupid, because love is so much better and more important, right? Right....
Another issue here is that even if Mickey is played by adorable Amy Adams, I found it hard to believe that someone would want to date her. The film constantly tries to show us that Mickey is not only a girl, she is a girl who does guy things. She knows baseball. She drinks beer. She can play pool. And here's the scene - a guy in the bar asks her to play pool with him. She wins. No, no - she doesnt' just win, she kicks his ass, obviously being happy and smug about it. Even if I knew how to play pool, I'd let the guy win. You gotta let the man keep his balls.
Also in spite of Adams's earnest efforts, the character just comes off as unlikable and slightly whiny. To makes matters worse there is absolutely no chemistry between Adams and Timberlake, these two just don't work together. Though Timberlake adds some humour to the movie, he looks more like Adams's younger brother than her love interest and his character is nothing more than plot device designed to make Mickey change her ways because she found "love" and that magically cured her "pain".
One thing that works extremely well in the movie is the father/daughter relationship. I'm completely estranged from my father and the one time during the whole year when we are in the same room is Christmas Eve, so I'm not sure whether that makes me more or less qualify to say the way it looked in the movie felt very realistic. Eastwood and Adams do real wonders here and you really feel as if you were watching real father and daughter on the screen. You can feel the love between them in every single moment they share and that is something extraordinary and the whole credit should go to these two for creating such believable bond in such mediocre movie.
Eastwood is really terrific here and he makes even the most silly and cliche moments feel heartfelt and honest - like the scene where Gus visits his wife's grave and talks to her. Also I felt like this was one of Eastwood's most accessible characters, as he was nowhere near as unpleasant like in, for example, Gran Torino. He also has some of his classic rude and hilarious lines here, which definitely made the film much more enjoyable for me.
Unfortunately, this all goes to waste as other than for one particular thing, the film is completely forgettable. What makes it memorable? The most ridiculous plot resolution of the year. If you think that Batman ejecting from the Bat and surviving was implausible, wait till you see this shit. Mickey is staying in the motel and as she walks out of her room she sees some guy playing baseball. It turns out the guy is a freaking genius and he can throw so amazingly that it's impossible to hit the ball with the bat. Mickey brings him in and we get a scene where everyone is standing there on the field, with their jaws dropped, as the guy keeps throwing balls and throws one in slow motion - of course the curved one, so we would get a nice connection to the title.
Once everyone sees this going on they praise Gus, Mickey becomes the agent to the genius and the head jerk gets fired. I was going to give the movie 6 points but as soon as I saw this sequence all hope was lost. It wasn't even lazy writing it was being-high-and writing-down-ridiculous-ideas writing. Deus ex machina or baseball genius in the motel parking lot if there ever was one.
Trouble with the Curve was actually destined to be mediocre - with a
story like that, no matter how talented the actors, it just can't
mesmerize. We saw this story many times, usually in much more appealing
Trouble with the Curve (2012, 111 min)
Plot: Gus is a baseball scout. The team he works for thinks he should retire.
He asks them to let him do one more scouting job to prove himself. His
friend, Pete, asks Gus's estranged daughter, Mickey, if she could go
with him to make sure he's OK as his eyes are failing. Mickey decides to put her
work on hold and help. Soon they run into Johnny, a scout from another team
who was a promising player Gus once scouted. Johnny and Mickey take an
interest in each other.
Director: Robert Lorenz
Writer: Randy Brown
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and John Goodman