Movie Mind Says: Add to Bottom of Netflix List
If You Like This You Should Watch: Space Cowboys
Better Than: Summer Catch
Worse Than: Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake
Say you took the scene from Moneyball where the old scouts are arguing with Billy Beane over how their tried and true methods supplant the new-age saber-metrics and turned it into a 2-hour film. Presto! You’ve got Trouble with the Curve. The only difference is, the old scouts still prove to be useful and the story doesn’t end with the A’s being knocked out of the ALCS yet again. [Yankees fan chuckling] Now I wouldn’t complain about watching a film about on baseball and the scouting process, but let’s be real here, this film has as much to do with baseball as Charlie Sheen does with celibacy. Once “JTSmooth” Timberlake shows his mug onscreen, the last thing this film is about is baseball. Without Clint Eastwood the film is a total bust and the reincarnation of Freddie Prinze in Summer Catch. Thankfully, Clint is [still] the best in the biz and with Amy Adams behind him, the movie ends up being a decent watch.
Not to get all baseball snob on you, but indulge me here for a minute. There were more holes in this script than there are in A-Rod’s postseason swing. There were so many muffed storylines that are supposed to be crucial to the plot, they are hard to overlook. On top of that, it sure seemed like lazy writing in a number of instances which is disappointing because this movie could have been really good. A couple of these may be spoilers so please avert your eyes if you must.
One of the most basic ways to tell how much thought was put into the writing is by looking at the character names. Some of them ended up perfect: Clint Eastwood as the grizzled old scout, “Gus”. His daughter, “Mickey”, named after his favorite player Mickey Mantle. So far so good, right? Then you get to Justin Timberlake who plays a new scout aiming for a job in the booth. He used to be a big-time prospect when he was a pitcher they called “The Flame”. Cause he threw hard, get it? Real creative, I know. Now you may not think that’s a big deal but they stopped calling hard-throwing pitchers “The Flame” in 1955. Wasn’t there a single baseball consultant on the set here?
That doesn’t scratch the surface of one of the biggest issues of all. I put on my GM hat and try to figure out why in the world a team would fire a scout because they advised them against taking a certain player, only to be pissed that the team right after them picked the guy they passed on. Isn’t that the point of scouting? Boston would not care that the Braves drafted big Bo Gentry after they ended up passing on him one pick earlier. Did they really think the supposed sure #1 pick would last until the next time they picked? That doesn’t add up. Naturally, it was the fastest way to create strife between JT and Amy Adams’ characters to set up a big reunion at the end. If you’re surprised by that, don’t bother watching.
My tolerance boiled over after the film spent so much time on a fruitless storyline, much like a dangling participle that would’ve gotten you a D on your Grammar test. What was the point of developing the personality of the big prospect (Bo Gentry) to portray him as the spoiled entitled future big star? Where was Gus’ analysis of the kid as a diva with a big league ego and no humility? I just think this was an open loop in the story that made no sense and could have been used to close the story. Wouldn’t an old school scout be more concerned with a player’s attitude and desire whereas the “computer” scouts aren’t privy to that information?
At its core, you have a nice father-daughter relationship struggle outlined in this film. The baseball is minimal and not even necessarily critical to the plot. I really feel like with this cast, between Eastwood and Adams, with a solid performance by John Goodman, it should have been much better. Maybe I’m being harsh since I went in looking at it as a baseball movie, but even as your standard drama-fare it doesn’t live up to what we’d expect from Clint and his supporting cast.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: John Goodman (aka the underrated larger than life Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski, star of King Ralph, and Dan Conner from Roseanne) as Pete Klein, the Director of College Scouting for the Braves that is still loyal to Clint Eastwood’s character Gus.
Gus: Anybody who uses computers doesn’t know a damn thing about this game.
Pete Klein: Have you thought about what you’ll do when your contract is up?
Gus: Sure, sign another one for more money.
Gus: You don’t know anything about scouting.
Johnny: Don’t tell them that.
Gus: You shouldn’t be in a place like this.
Mickey: You used to sneak me into places worse than this.
Gus: Now get out of here before I have a heart attack trying to kill you.
Gus: I know I’m as blind as a slab of concrete, but I’m not helpless. I’ll put a bullet in my head when that happens.
Mickey: That’s comforting.
Johnny: So, what’s Mickey short for? Michelle?
Mickey: Mickey is short for Mickey. As in Mickey Mantle, my father’s favorite player.
Johnny: Aha. Lucky it wasn’t Yogi Berra.
Johnny: I remember him saying he had a daughter in college. Yep. He would say that she was smarter than me and him put together. That’s why when I met you, obviously, I thought Gus had another daughter.
Gus: What do you say now, jackass? That’s know as, trouble with the curve.