Trouble with the Curve is further evidence that Clint Eastwood isn’t quite ready to bow out of the spotlight just yet. Despite being in his 80s, he has been more prolific as a director than most, delivering such films as J. Edgar, Hereafter, Invictus, Gran Torino, and Changeling, all in the last four years. For his latest film, he finally returns to being in front of the camera, while also giving up the directing reigns for the first time in several years.
The film revolves around Gus (Eastwood), a talent scout for a baseball team who is getting up in years. He is one of the few talent scouts left who actually goes to see the players play in order to see their skills firsthand, as opposed to other scouts who look at stats on a computer. His team is considering letting him go after his contract expires, but with the draft coming up, they figure they might as well let him have a go at another possible recruit who has been making a big splash in the lower leagues of the sport.
Gus’ friend, Pete (John Goodman), is concerned that Gus may not have what it takes to do the job anymore, which leads him to convince Gus’ daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), to help her dad scout the potential recruit. Mickey has an extremely busy life of her own as a lawyer who could possibly become a partner at her firm should her latest case turn out well. Gus and Mickey have a complicated past that has led to them not talking much, but they make the best of the situation and do the job at hand. Meanwhile, another scout, Johnny (Justin Timberlake), has also been sent out to watch the same player, but ends up having more interesting in Mickey instead.
You can probably tell right away where the main problem with this film lies. It’s another example of a film that ends up being all over the place with its story. It wants to be a story about Gus as a scout and Mickey trying to reconcile the past with her father, as well as Mickey trying to become a partner and her relationship with Johnny. Apparently one or two storylines wasn’t good enough, so the writer, Randy Brown, figured he’d cover all his bases (no pun intended) by having several.
However, this is exactly what causes the film to end up getting lost. By trying to be about so many different things, none of the storylines outshine the others, turning this into a messy and forgettable film. What would have most likely worked best for the film would have been to concentrate on the first two storylines from the list above. Above all, it seemed like Brown wanted to make this film about Gus coming to terms with his job and his daughter. The rest merely came off as a distraction from this central plot.
There were also issues to be found with the film’s predictable nature and conclusions. Trouble with the Curve is one of those films where there are no surprises, meaning that you can tell exactly where it’s headed. It even goes so far as to fall into the trappings of the old rom-com formula where it tries to fool you into thinking that the couple won’t end up together because of some ridiculous misunderstanding. Aside from that, there are parts of the ending that wrap up far too quickly, almost as if they were are afterthought. Other parts simply end up being far too convenient to be believable.
Luckily, it doesn’t all end up being bad. You do get a pair of good performances from Amy Adams, a three-time Oscar nominee, and Justin Timberlake, who surprised everyone when he showed that he had a bit of acting talent in The Social Network. You may have noticed that I didn’t include Eastwood on that list. His performance, which mainly has him grunting his lines, is not particularly strong here. He seems to have fallen into a rut, playing a similar crotchety old man in the last few films he’s been in. Perhaps it’s best that he stays behind the camera at this point in his life, though I’d hate to see this be his farewell performance.
Turning now to the Blu-Ray itself, the film is presented in a 1080p, 2.4:1 transfer that has a sharp picture and bright colors. The film may take place in a lot of drab locations (offices, baseball fields, etc.), but the clarity remains high throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is loud and clear, mixing dialogue, sound effects, and the score in good measure. This may be a small drama, but the studio certainly did a great job on the technical aspects.
What they didn’t do such a great job on are the special features. There are only two featurettes on the disc, one called “Trouble with the Curve: Rising Through the Ranks,” the other called “Trouble with the Curve: For the Love of the Game.” These featurettes, which run about ten minutes combined, don’t go into any depth about the movie whatsoever. The content merely concerns the cast and crew saying how great it was to work with each other, with a little section about how the film’s first-time director, Rob Lorenz, has worked with Eastwood for twenty years.
These extras are basically a waste of time as they don’t tell you anything about the movie itself. It would have been nice to learn how Brown came up with this idea in the first place, why he decided to include so many storylines, and why everyone was attracted to the material. Sure, a lot of them probably wanted to work with Eastwood, but there must have been a little more to it than that.
Overall, Trouble with the Curve arrives on Blu-Ray with beautiful quality, but the multi-plotted narrative of the film and the hollow special features only serve to drag it down, ultimately making this a release that I can’t recommend.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.
Trouble with the Curve arrives on Blu-Ray with beautiful quality, but the multi-plotted narrative of the film and the hollow special features only serve to drag it down, ultimately making this a release that I can’t recommend.