The film offers a simple enough premise, following an ornery baseball scout named Gus (Eastwood) who is practically forced to take his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) along with him on a recruiting trip, emotions flaring up as Mickey has been desperately seeking Gus’s validation for years. But unfortunately this isn’t the tale of a sentimental journey to the heart of an old scrooge one would hope for – instead it’s more of one long “You’re old!” joke that adds a couple of destestable third act twists. Eastwood is in full-on “Gran Torino” mode here, only now he’s not racist and alone, but rather someone who hates technology, modern love, and anything that has advanced since he was in his prime. The old age jokes grow stale after about the first one, but what this really makes way for is the fact that everyone in “Trouble With The Curve” wears their character’s intentions right on their sleeve, offering no depth or need to become invested in any of the events in the film because we pretty much know where it’s all going.
Longtime Eastwood collaborator Robert Lorenz makes his directorial debut, and there’s really not much to say about the sort of technical prowess or directorial sensibilities on display. Lorenz has served as a producer, assistant director, and on other various positions on Eastwood projects for over a decade, and he certainly chooses from Eastwood’s stable of creatives, with folks like cinematographer Tom Stern joining in to give the film a little visual zest. Lorenz is a journeyman behind the camera, with his storytelling techniques leaning heavily towards to his buddy Eastwood, the only main criticism of his work being perhaps that he never truly allows the film to come alive.
As you might guess, "Trouble With The Curve" doesn't offer much nuance and attempts to reach emotional heights mostly via close-ups of Clint Eastwood welling-up while staring directly into the camera, while leaving a whole army of a cast completely underutilized. (Did we mention that John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick, and about a handful of other recognizable thespians are in this too?) Despite the immense talent on hand, something has certainly gone wrong along the way. Undoubtedly, many will be left longing for Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball." While that film is more baseball-centric than “Trouble With The Curve,” it was also filled with rich, complex characters that were worth caring about, and better yet, a story that was worth investing in.
Unfortunately, we don’t have that with “Trouble With The Curve,” and we’re left with a film that’s lifeless and below everyone who’s on screen. Lacking narrative momentum, saddled with thin characterizations and uninspired plotting, "Trouble With The Curve" should've stayed on the bench. [D]