Trouble With the Curve hits a home run

by Victor Rodriguez / Columnist • September 27, 2012

Clint Eastwood and Robert Lorenz team up once more, leaving their more cynical tone to welcome an uplifting tone in sports-drama. Productions by Eastwood have been critically successful, and Trouble With The Curve is not going to be an exception, if only because of the American tradition that baseball is.

Clint Eastwood plays Gus, a scout for the Atlanta Braves who is on the brink of forced retirement as he accepts the challenge of finding a new prospect in North Carolina. What seems to be a typical sports film, soon turns into something more when his daughter Mickey, played by Amy Adams, decides to be of some help, meeting with a not-so-friendly response on Gus’ part, still she is insistent on accompanying him. As the unstable father-daughter relationship progresses to reveal secrets of their past, Johnny (Justin Timberlake) makes an appearance, being an old friend of Gus, takes an amorous interest in Mickey.

A successful performance by Eastwood, playing a retiring baseball scout, reminiscent of his previous roles in films like Gran Torino (2008), features a kind of antihero in that he is really not that likeable. Gus is not charismatic, he is not a good father, nor is he a positive person. He is an antihero because he has a cynicism about himself that wounds his own person and those around him. This is typical of the late Clint Eastwood, finding solace in his own hostility and use of profanity, Gus, like Walt in Gran Torino (also played by Eastwood), has a secondary function of providing dark comic relief in the viewers. Dark humor can be found in the irony of an 80-year-old with a strong attitude, as Mickey is ignoring the insistence of a flirtatious man at a bar, Gus immediately grabs a hold of him, punching him repeatedly. When Gus is separated from the man, he yells “Get outta here before I have a heart attack trying to kill you!” In his hands is a menacing broken bottle of beer.

Direction and cinematography is unimpressive. At thinking of a Clint Eastwood production, imaginings of dark lighting and a gritty tone were not unrealistic before watching a trailer for Trouble With The Curve, but it turns out to be exactly the opposite. Trouble With The Curve is an uplifting drama with a divulged message between humanity and technology, while telling the story of a father-daughter relationship in rough times. Interestingly enough, director Robert Lorenz does have interesting point-of-view shots that display the half-blurry vision of which Gus is suffering from. With age against him, Gus turns out to be better than a computer at telling the efficiency of a player, where his competition relies simply on statistics. An all-too-common characteristic of an all-too-complex character. Gus insists on watching players’ eyes as they are about to hit a home run, or hear the sound of the bat as they hit a curve ball, which is what saves him from forced retirement. Although Trouble With The Curve has a strong acting and a decent direction, the film is short from being a home run.

The partnership between Clint Eastwood and Robert Lorenz has proved to be fruitful in the past years. Lorenz was associated with Eastwood in productions such as Mystic River, Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Million Dollar Baby; all received Oscar nominations. Trouble With The Curve, in contrast with their past collaborations, turned out to be a film in the Hollywood style with a happy ending. This is not to say that the film fails because of its ending, but their style has been further developed in films that have a gritty outlook towards about humanity. This film is lost in its simplicity, fulfilling the audience’s expectations, which is satisfying, but does not incite further thinking. It will most probably be a box office success in the United States, because of the baseball theme, and because of its Hollywood structure, and although the performances are great, especially that of Clint Eastwood, the film is not.