johnlink ranks TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012)

Though a fairly constant fan of baseball, I have never been a huge follower of baseball movies. MAJOR LEAGUE was funny enough. But I’ve never seen classics like THE NATURAL or FIELD OF DREAMS or the newly popular MONEYBALL. Often that indifference is born out of a feeling like the movie I’m watching doesn’t mesh with what I know of the baseball I watch on TV (which is, perhaps, why LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN gets a pass, since it is clearly not intended to be like the baseball we watch on TV anyway). Anyway, I watched TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE last night. It is a baseball movie I did want to see.


I watched TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012) on 7.2.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

Potentially, this is a couple of lame scenes (or a couple of average actors) away from being mediocre at best. I’m pretty sure the scouting of the number one pick in all of baseball is nothing like the way depicted in this movie. I understand, for dramatic purposes, why the Braves and Red Sox each have one scout out watching a few high school games without bringing the kid in for a workout or an interview: the movie needs this to be the climactic issue. However, there is absolutely no way a team is discovering the shortcomings of a player over the phone with a scout while the team is on the clock drafting. In many ways, the movie would have been better served by lowering the stakes of the player, by making him a project which Red Sox scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake) and Braves scout Gus (Clint Eastwood) are arguing over as, say, a late round pick.

Because, really, the draw of this movie is less about baseball and more about the relationships. Johnny is an up-and-comer who was once recruited by Gus. Gus is on his way out, unable to see. Their careers could have been just as much on the line with a less auspicious player to scout, and I might have believed the plot a little bit more. Then Amy Adams, as Gus’ daughter Mickey, could still have walked in and tried to help Gus while sacrificing her own career.

But I don’t want to sit here and rewrite the movie. And I also don’t want to get to far into knocking before saying that TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, despite its baseball-related shortcomings, is a really enjoyable experience. If it weren’t for Eastwood and Adams and Timberlake (and, sure, John Goodman as Gus’ boss), then this would have been far, far less of a joy. Because of their involvement we care. They make us care. Eastwood brings that grumble and cache, Adams is sweet and earnest, Timberlake is endearing and somewhat (surprisingly) broken. I love the story that builds around these three. I even enjoy the actual scenes of watching and discussing baseball.

The climax, however, is filled with coincidence, cliche, and some fairly blustery deus ex machina. The ending needs something like it (especially since, because of Gus’ age, we can’t jump years ahead to see what would happen to the rookie), but I can’t help but feel it was all a little too easy. I can’t help but feel like the ending didn’t’ deliver fully on the very real challenges the movie spent over an hour and a half building.

This is a very likable movie. I’d watch it again instantly. It just doesn’t have much depth when it comes to the world it inhabits. I wish as much focus had been paid to the plot as the characters. I wish the baseball felt a little more like the world of baseball I know.

That said, I could watch Eastwood, Adams, and Timberlake act off of each other for hours upon hours and never get bored.





~ by johnlink00 on July 3, 2013.

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