I’ve promised myself for any number of reasons to make zero Clint Eastwood chair jokes in this review of Trouble With the Curve. However, I do believe there is a brilliant one to be made in regard to a scene early in the film where old Clint is talking to himself while urinating. But alas, it will not be made by me. Instead, I’m here to talk about this movie — this schmaltzy, infuriating, insultingly predictable, boring little movie that’s so lifeless and unwilling to do anything original or interesting that it barely exists.
Eastwood — at his most waxen and inaudibly grumpy — plays Gus, a famed baseball scout who’s losing his eyesight and is in danger of being made obsolete by mathematics and computers (screenwriter Randy Brown has obviously read Moneyball, or at least read its synopsis on Wikipedia). So at the behest of his best friend (John Goodman), his workaholic lawyer daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) joins him on one last road trip to scout one last stud prospect, Bo Gentry (TV actor Joe Massingill). Every character is painted in black or white, be they noble and good-hearted or downright despicable. Gus’ villainous co-worker (Matthew Lillard), who’s trying to get him fired, is so obviously up to no good that he should be given a mustache to twirl. At the same time, Bo is such an uncouth, cocky doofus that you know from scene one things will turn out poorly for him.
The entire plot exists to set up Trouble With the Curve’s big feel good — and incredibly predicable — ending, with occasional stops for dysfunctional family drama that’s at the center of the plot. The only thing the movie does right is give Amy Adams lots of screentime, and occasionally her personality is enough to make the film watchable. But at the same time, long-time Eastwood second-unit director/producer Robert Lorenz — here making his feature debut — doesn’t have a clue what to do with her. Really, he doesn’t have much of a clue what to do behind a camera, either, but that doesn’t stop him from making a workmanlike movie in the most rudimentary and basic of fashions. This is probably for the best, since his one moment of ambition is a flashback that features jarring, goofy footage of Dirty Harry-era Eastwood that comes out of nowhere.
I’m no expert on baseball, but the struggle between traditional scouting and the modernized, analytical, statistical Moneyball mindset isn’t as cut and dry (or dire) a struggle as is portrayed here. Really, this is a movie that’s likely to be insulting to any intelligent, reasonable baseball fan. But that’s not what the film is here to do: Play to the cheap seats, with a single goal of a nice, tidy ending. The byproduct, of course, is a movie devoid of anything interesting, a dull, safe, impotent exercise in overly sentimental pap. Rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking.