CREDITS: Clint Eastwood (cranky as ever), Amy Adams (doing her best despite the fact that she is obviously no athlete or pool player), John Goodman (always dependable and likeable), Justin Timberlake (“In this life you’re either a Neil Diamond fan or you’re not. My wife loved him.” So said Bill Murray in What About Bob?. Well, that’s how I feel about anybody in Hollywood named Justin). Sports drama. Written by Randy Brown. Directed by Robert Lorenz.
FILM SYNOPSIS: Clint Eastwood plays aging Gus Lobel, a big-time baseball scout now losing his sight. His boss and only friend senses a problem and asks Gus’s estranged daughter to tag along as Gus scouts a prospective big leaguer. Though just made a partner in her law firm, she takes off a few days in order to try to connect with the father who had abandoned her as a child. Along the way they quarrel, she cries, he grimaces, she finds a new love interest, and Gus’s team management realize what they have in Gus.
PREVIEW REVIEW: If the response from those at the screening the other night is any indication, Clint has a crowd pleaser with this one. But it struck out with me (that will be the only baseball metaphor, I promise).
There are people who like going to sports movies, because as with a good western or a bad Alien rip-off, those filmgoers know exactly what they’re going to get. But despite pro performances and a well-intentioned message (something about family relationships) this is a trite, often cornball comedy/drama that manages to give us caricatures rather than fully realized people, and scenes after scenes that say the same things – over and over and over again.
There are a few funny lines, but few incisive observations about the human psyche, and even fewer moments that give us an honest, perceptive look at people trying to heal. It’s filmmaking by the numbers by people who never really go to ballgames. Oh, maybe they do go to sporting events, but my point is, I see them acting. Everybody is acting the part, not being the role. Except Justin. I don’t know what he’s doing.
Then there’s the Eastwood grimace, which once upon a time amused his fans and reassured audiences. This grimace helped personify a no-nonsense man, indicated he was tough, a hater of phoniness. Now, the grimace has devolved into a scarecrow sneer, becoming a craggy crease designed to frighten off crows and little children. No, I’m not making fun of Clint’s age – the silvering of my hair suggests that I am not in a position to make fun of seasoned lifers. It’s just that the grumpy guy only smiles one time in the whole film. When he does, for that brief moment, he lets us see a vulnerable human being with a sense of humor. The rest of the time, he acts like a member of walking dead lumbering about in search of brains to eat.
On top of those complaints there’s the language barrier. Once again, Eastwood and his compatriots use the names of Christ and the Creator to emote feelings of frustration and fear. The two things I never can figure out is why actors misuse the name of the one sinless man in order to express anger – and why we as Christians continue to support movies that contain irreverence to Christ and our Heavenly Father. “Cause we’d never get to go to any movie, Phil.” Well, you got me there.
I guess we could go to a ballgame instead of a film that profaned the Deity. No, that wouldn’t work, either. Then we’d have to put up with the obscene sports fan sitting directly behind us. Yeah, I went to a ballgame once.
DVD Alternative: The Rookie. If you own a TVGuardian box, which bleeps out swear words, I would also recommend Field of Dreams and On Golden Pond, as they are exceptional films that deal with some of the same issues as Trouble with the Curve, only better. There aren’t many curse words in either of those two words, but it may seem hypocritical of me to suggest them when they both contain a couple of profanities. So, get the TVG box first.