Trouble With The Curve

Trouble With The Curve

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

If you are a cinemagoer of nervous disposition looking for a film that sticks firmly to the predictable, safe and sunny side of the street, then Clint Eastwood's latest is for you. In fact, the Curve is so gentle that it seems rather churlish to pick on it. But when the biggest surprise is the fact that Clint Eastwood himself didn't direct it - the first time that's happened since 1993's In The Line Of Fire - you know you're in trouble.

Eastwood's long-time producer and second unit director Robert Lorenz steps up to the plate for his debut. But like the baseball diamond that features so prominently in his film, we all know which base will be dutifully tapped next and that a home-run for the characters is inevitable.


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Clint plays Gus an ageing baseball scout who, please don't stop me if you've heard this before or we'll never get through this synopsis, has a troubled relationship with his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams). She's a workaholic lawyer, gunning for a partnership with her firm - no prizes for guessing what happens there - who spent years on the road with her dad before he sent her away to live with her aunt and uncle. As a result, she has a crack knowledge of baseball and a cracked heart over her dad's rejection.

But when his boss and old pal Pete (John Goodman sporting the sort of moustache that Movember charity fundraisers can only dream of) realises Gus may be ill (he's actually losing his sight), he virtually begs Mickey to go into bat with her father on the road, to make sure they scout the right head. Those familiar with this sort of story - and who isn't? - will realise that the only thing missing here is a potential love interest (step forward Justin Timberlake) and a light sprinkling of the American Dream, which comes in a plot manoeuvre so obvious you can almost hear the gears grind (or perhaps that was my teeth).

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The performances are lovely. Eastwood growls out his part, while Adams is cheerily compelling as ever as Mickey. Timberlake also continues to go from strength to strength as an actor, bringing an easygoing charm to his role of pitcher turned baseball scout Johnny that lifts it beyond the cliche's of debutante writer Randy Brown's script. Scenes between him and Adams are genuinely affecting, even if you can see what will happen from a mile away.

The biggest problem is Lorenz's desire to underline everything to make sure we get the picture. Particularly criminal is the addition of an anodyne and laughable rendition of You Are My Sunshine to the closing moments of a scene that had, to that point, been a proper tearjerker. And the fact that the potential star pitcher that they're all scouting is a horrendous, slightly overweight bully makes him more of a cartoon sketch than a character.

The baseball element, too, is likely to be something of a drag to most British audiences, not raised on the finer points of the game. Despite all of this, however, the emotional notes ring true, making Trouble With The Curve, perhaps, best suited to a smaller screen on a Sunday afternoon when you want something the whole family can watch together.

Reviewed on: 30 Nov 2012
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An ageing baseball coach with failing sight, goes on the road with his daughter.
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Director: Robert Lorenz

Writer: Randy Brown

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Joe Massingill, Bob Gunton, George Wyner, Robert Patrick, Jay Galloway,

Year: 2012

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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