Baseball movies have always been a hard pitch to British audiences, but over the years there have been a few entries in the sub-sport genre that have struck a chord. The overrated yet well regarded Field Of Dreams and its better but lesser known brother Bull Durham were notable in the late eighties, and more recently Brad Pitt’s business focused study into the economics of the sport Moneyball earned critical praise but didn’t exactly set the box office on fire.
Now we have Trouble With The Curve: a star studded ditty about an aging baseball talent scout (Clint Eastwood) struggling with the woes of old age and forced to face the past after his best friend and daughter raise concerns about his health and competence as both a scout and a father.
TWTC is a breezy MOR drama that often feels far too light on its feet to warrant such an incredible cast. Considering the talent on board it’s a shame the story doesn’t veer into more challenging territory with complex dramas and character arcs. Instead the plot drifts through saccharine mediocrity as Adams’ Mickey Lobel takes a career break to help her doddery old Dad with his job while hoping to confront him about some unresolved childhood issues and repair their semi-fractured relationship. It’s by the numbers stuff and not very well put together. The story occasionally glides into various sub-plots, leaving a number of potentially interesting characters under-developed to the point where they might as well not have appeared at all.
Clint’s grizzled old geezer schtick has always been entertaining but is starting feel tired while John Goodman offers amicable support as his best pal and work colleague in a role he could have phoned in. The high calibre cast just about make it worthwhile but the plot wanders uselessly like an old man through a park, in search of something profound to give it much needed depth. Had the script been more tightly honed and supporting characters developed, it could have been remarkable. As it stands TWTC feels far too flimsy and with flat dialogue that, whilst delivered with conviction, does little to drive the story of deepen our understanding of the protagonists.
There are enough conflicting characters to make for occasionally entertaining viewing. Justin Timberlake swoons as a rival scout and possible love interest for Amy Adams, only slightly dipping into cheese-ball territory with some grating one-liners, while Matthew Lillard hams it up nicely as an industry slimeball along with a leathery Robert Patrick. But despite all the boys giving it there best it is Amy Adams who steals the show in the role of Eastwood’s daughter, perfect as the small town girl done well as a solicitor.
TWTC will no doubt find an audience considering the talent on board but it is a shame to see them wasted in a film that meanders without a worthy enough story to warrant their presence. At nearly two hours it is way too long and stalls completely towards the end of the second act. But for all its flaws TWTC is endearing enough to kill a couple of hours without wasting them, despite on the whole being quite forgettable.
Trouble With The Curve is released in cinemas on 28 November