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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Trouble with the Curve | Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Robert Patrick | Review

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  2_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Trouble with the Curve | Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Robert Patrick | Review

There’s trouble all right, but it’s with plot contrivances in this alternately boring and silly tale of an aging and increasingly infirm Atlanta Braves baseball scout who is assisted on the job by his daughter.  Road trip containing strained relationship – sound familiar?

Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) is a crabby, growling old curmudgeon, afflicted with macular degeneration and in denial about everything – from his age to his dwindling ability.  His bosses Pete (John Goodman) and Vince (Robert Patrick) send him out for a last shot at scouting success with one condition – his daughter, attorney Mickey Lobel (Amy Adams) must accompany him.  She’s got a scout’s instincts from spending part of her youth with her dad before he inexplicably sent her away.  So there’s that ax to grind in the tiny car that takes them to North Carolina to watch emerging superstar Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill).

Along the way, they meet rival scout Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake) whom Gus once scouted himself.  Johnny is smitten with Mickey (named after Mickey Mantle) so there’s that complication as well.

Gus has a lot on his plate.  He must prove he’s not an obsolete dinosaur in a computer-generated statistical world.  He must try to mend his relationship with Mickey.  He must deny his decrepitude on a daily basis.  He must never smile.

Mickey hovers between caring for her aging dad and resenting him.  Johnny represents the new order of slick, stat-based baseball scouts.  The story is more relationship than career-based but manages to lose steam quickly after it begins.

Revelations and resolutions all happen in one hurried chunk at the end of the film hardly a payoff for the tedium that preceded it.  The whole thing rings false, with the sloppy construction showing all of its slapped-together seams.

Built to cater to Eastwood’s badass image from Rawhide’s Rowdy Yates to (Dirty) Harry Callahan to Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name, the actor still has a venerable presence but even he can’t make every role fit just because it has smartass lines to toss.  No one wants to see Eastwood go out looking foolish, sad, or both.  Crotchety and cranky are no replacements for class and cool.

Eastwood has become the poster boy for grumpy, laconic codgers, while Timberlake could prove to be an increasingly effective actor whenever the role allows (Alpha Dog, Social Network).  Here’s he’s pushed into yawn-inspiring romantic trysts with Adams, from whom it’s hard to buy the obscure baseball stats that so effortlessly fall from her lips.  Adams has made a career of playing the wide-eyed woman with steel resolve and flattering lip gloss.

The script, by first-time screenwriter Randy Brown, summons all of the tired formulas for conflict and broad one-note characters, assembling neat patches of contrivance to move the story along, a little too conveniently.  The conflict resolutions that coalesce by film’s end are downright magical.

Director Robert Lorenz’ debut pieces together scenes in unimaginative linear blocks (although there is one crucial flashback so that we get the Dirty Harry Eastwood, but only for a moment).  Lorenz has a long history with Eastwood as producer on films like Letters from Iwo Jima, Mystic River, and Gran Torino.  Unfortunately, Trouble with the Curve is not even in the same ballpark.  It’s the polar opposite of Moneyball in every way.  That savvy, behind the scenes baseball film was nominated for six Academy awards.

Enough said.



 
 
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