If you’re the best scout in baseball checking out the next big thing, the last thing you want is your daughter hanging around nagging you. But what if she knows even more about the game than you do?
Gus (Clint Eastwood) is a big-league scout sent to check out Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), a high school phenom and major league douche, to see if he has the game to play for the Atlanta Braves. There’s just one problem: Gus’ eyesight is turning to shit, and management is considering putting him out to pasture. Before making the call, the bosses decide to do a little scouting of their own. Longtime friend and colleague Pete (John Goodman) calls on Gus’ daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to watch the old man. Sure, Pete, she’ll put her promising law career on hold to play nursemaid to the absent father that dumped her. Father and daughter are equally unhappy with her tagging along.
Along comes quick-witted Johnny “The Flame” Flanagan, (Justin Timberlake) a former pitcher Gus had scouted. Having blown out his arm, he’s now on the road scouting Gentry for the Boston Red Sox and hoping to nab an open broadcaster spot. The appropriate sparks fly as Mickey starts doing Dad’s job for him, showing off the fact that she knows more about baseball than most general managers. But old wounds keep reopening as she tries to talk to Gus and find out why he left her with family when her mother died. Can the two work it out before she has to go back to her job, or will the bad feelings simply fester and ruin their already strained relationship?
Don’t expect the laughfest the trailers try to sell you; this charming film’s dramatic side is the more prominent angle. Sure, it’s got its humor but the serious side of Trouble With the Curve is where it’s at. First-time director Robert Lorenz has an impressive resume as first or second assistant director, most of it collaborations with Eastwood (Mystic River, Blood Work, Million Dollar Baby). Trouble is actually the first movie in which Eastwood has starred that he hasn’t directed sine 1993’s In the Line of Fire. Lorenz and first-time writer Randy Brown did well in their inaugural effort, giving us a polished flick with a little bit of something for everyone. As baseball movies go, it’s not the manly tearjerker that is Field of Dreams nor goofy and hilarious like Major League. Think an adult version of The Sandlot and you’re getting close.
Eastwood’s well-practiced grouchiness is in full effect (he comes to Mickey’s defense at a bar, growling at a jerkoff not to make him have a heart attack trying to kill him), with much the same warm gooiness we saw in Gran Torino. Adams is more than competent as the hot, touch chick that knows way too much about the game. The banter with Timberlake’s slick-but-silly character is great. The trio has wonderful on-screen chemistry that makes a good story that much better. Trouble With the Curve doesn’t exactly knock it out of the park (the unavoidable baseball pun), but the game is a good enough watch that you won’t find yourself worrying about your peanuts and Crackerjacks when you’re out at this ballgame.