Man, talk about a misleading movie description, IMDb says this about Eastwood’s Trouble With the Curve: “An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.” Yeah, it’s true that Amy Adams, playing the daughter (an ambitious lawyer in her early 30’s ) finds herself on the road with daddy Eastwood. But that’s not what this movie is about.
This is the story of a father-daughter relationship gone bad from her early childhood, where Clint’s character, as a young scout, fobbed her off on relatives at a tender age and later to boarding school because he couldn’t rear her by himself as he traveled around scouting ballplayers. It is the story of that redemption, but in the guise of a baseball tale.
And the baseball story does have appeal. The Braves have sent Gus to scout a North Carolina high school phenom, Bo Gentry. Is he worthy of a No. 1 draft pick? And Gus, the aging scout is losing his eyesight. Can he see well enough to give the Braves a fair assessment of the kid’s talent? The kid, BTW is really dislikeable and actor Joe Massengill does a nice job presenting the kid as a self-centered jerk. (Dunno how much longer Massengill can play high school age, but it worked here.) That story goes to a predictable comeuppance, but with a big twist.
Anyway, Clint struggles with his vision and Amy Adams struggles with Clint. She does a very fine job as the daughter Mickey, whose legal career is taking off just as Dad's career begins to decline. She’s got to help him, which allows for the redemption story to come to the fore. Adams is truly delightful (as she usually is). The movie is worth seeing for her alone, although Clint fans will love the irascible old man.
There is even a fairly decent falling in love side story as Amy and Justin Timberlake discover each other. John Goodman is his roly-poly self, playing the Braves’ director of scouting and dealing with the office backstabbers.
It’s not a big movie, but well worth being seen by general audiences, including kids. Baseball fans will enjoy it even more. Plus, typical of an Eastwood movie, there are a number of twists at the end. It even closes with the Ray Charles version of “You are My Sunshine,” a song also sung early and poignantly by a grieving Eastwood.
In my opinion the critics have far underrated this movie. RT critics are too down on it, while RT’s audience rating is only 60. I think it deserves better.
This film is largely a character study about the relationship between a father and daughter. But, neither of them undergo a realistic story arc and there is no sense of "change" in their characters over the course of the movie. Sure, things are magically better at the ham-fisted and obvious happy end of the film, but I did not get a sense of why things were better. Is Clint no longer a loner? Has he learned to deal with his rapidly deteriorating body? Is he able to recognize his own failings? I dunno because the movie never really addresses this, but he proves he can still pick out a glaringly obvious flaw in a baseball player so I guess everything is fine. Sheesh!
There is a reason critics are not liking this one very much, the script felt like it was written by a 12-year-old. It had no depth. What's more, I didn't like any of the characters. I was almost rooting for Clint to fail in his final scouting trip because he was such an unlikeable person. Amy Adams was scarcely more likeable. I thought Justin Timberlake was a fun character, right up until the minute that he started acting like a jerk for no obvious reason in the final minutes of the film.
To make matters worse, the story was not realistic and made no sense if you know anything at all about baseball so it could not even pass as a good baseball movie.
I was bored. My wife didn't like it. 3 critic friends of mine who were in the screening with me were laughing at how bad it was. No way folks should pay movie ticket prices to go see this one. If you are really dying to see it, wait 4 or 5 weeks and it will be at the discount cinemas.
If you want to pay full price for a movie this weekend, go see End of Watch**, which is one of the best-acted, most realistic cop stories I have ever seen. Now that is a great flick! Easily on my 10 best list for the year.
-Jason "Trouble With the Curve is not doing well at the boxoffice -- it was supposed to win the weekend easily but looks like it is only going to make mid-high teens this weekend, far less than anticipated" Evans
**- Note, lots of language and some hard violence too
Look, I think I probably understated the appeal this movie would have for the 9-15 age group. It is not really for adults or to be held to the standards of an adult insight movie. For some reason, probably language or maybe Clint's flashback, this movie was given a PG-13 rating. It is really a G rated film. Had Eastwood marketed this as a family film, I think you might have looked at it differently.
You said your wife didn't like it. Did you take the kids? What was their assessment? When my wife and I saw it, as a matinee, there were a number of kids there.
Sure, it's not a deeply thoughtful movie and it's largely predictable. But so what? It's a small film aimed at the younger set who will not perceive the faults you and the critics have applied. Those kids will surely enjoy the baseball part, including the connected office stuff. They will enjoy Amy Adams playing baseball trivia with Timberlake. They will probably understand the father-daughter thing on a basic level. But they won't get caught up in the critics' analyses.
By the way, your reference to its box office success suggests that you may, in part, be judging this film on that basis. Personally, I would not do that.
You may be right that it would appeal to a less-sophisticated pre-teen and early-teen audience. You are correct that it was not marketed that way as neither of my sons (13, 15) wanted to go see it and I did not take them. Personally, though, I think it would be of limited interest to them. Though it has some fun baseball parts, the bulk of the movie is about relationships and dealing with our own shortcomings. I don't see kids enjoying that stuff. The idea that youngsters would enjoy watching a crotchety old man grumble about his lot in life seems strange to me (it is not like Clint is playing this for laughs like a live-action version of Up).
It is worth noting at this point that the early word out of Hollywood is that Trouble With The Curve is getting a very mediocre "B" cinemascore. A movie that gets really good word of mouth generally scores an A-minus or and A. Scoring a B is an indication of an "average" movie -- which is about what this is. It isn't a horrible train wreck, and I hope I did not imply that it was, but it is nothing special (in my opinion or the opinion of the vast majority of moviegoers who gave it that "B" score).
All that said, I am glad you enjoyed it. Any time someone pays to see a movie, I fervently hope they will have a good time. Films are too expensive to go to and not enjoy, in my opinion.
-Jason "I say again, the flick to see this weekend is End of Watch, which is currently getting an A- Cinemascore" Evans
There haven't been many "A-list" movies in years that, after seeing a 90 second trailer and knowing who starred and directed, I couldn't write the plot summary, including all the "unexpected twists", with about 85% accuracy without even seeing the movie. I typically find myself more disappointed than anyting else with mainstream movies.
The relationship between Gus and his daughter seems to replicate the relationship between Luther and his daughter in Absolute Power. I never thought that Under the Boardwalk was half the song that Upon the Roof was, although they were just about the same song. I really, really liked Absolute Power; sounds as if Curve might be Upon the Roof's Under the Boardwalk. Now that I think about it, that's not all bad. I was never mad at Under the Boardwalk. Just thought it was cheesy to sell a song twice; you could dance to it and I did spend my early years going to the beach at Coney Island and Brighten Beach in Brooklyn.
Saw Trouble With the Curve today and thoroughly enjoyed, as did my wife and 21 year old son. I would actually rate it better , in my opinion, than Looper which I saw yesterday.
Doesn't this fall into the mantra that a good basketball movie (Hoosiers aside) pretty much stinks - and that even a bad baseball movie is still better than most other movies??
Perkins is the star basketball player at Custer College, a Duke-like school renowned as the best academic and the best basketball school on the West Coast. Jane Fonda is a man-hungry coed who enrolls at Custer to catch a husband. Her pursuit of Perkins leads to complications -- eventually Walston, as a professor of ethics, flunks Perkins (the reasons are too complicated to go into) before the big game with the touring Russian all-stars.
It's embarrassingly bad. I've long suspected that it's been hard to find because Fonda was buying up rights to hide what has to be the worst performance of her career (and whatever you think of her politics, she did eventually mature into a superb acrtess).
PS Talking basketball movies, does "The Absent-Minded Professor" -- with its flubberized basketball game? -- count?
I've read two reviews (AO Scott and Ebert) and this thread, and I come away with my initial reflex from the trailer confirmed. I'll make time for this on Netflix sometime in 2013 when I can't sleep, but there's no way I'm bothering to go to a theater to see it.
A movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it.
Some questions cannot be answered
Who’s gonna bury who
We need a love like Johnny, Johnny and June
---Over the Rhine
I think one of the funniest reactions to Perkins' performance came from Jimmy Piersall himself. He didn't mind the movie depicting him as a nut-case (it was, after all, based on his autobiography), but he hated Perkins:
"Jeez, I've had nine children and the guy they got to play me threw a baseball like a girl and danced around in the outfield like a ballerina."
There may have been a homophobic element to that comment ... Tab Hunter (who would later play Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees) had played Piersall in a TV version of Fear Strikes Out and wanted very much to play Piersall on the big screen. Hunter was well-known in Hollywood circles as a gay actor (he later came out publically) and his closest friend at that time was ... Tony Perkins. Hunter later claimed that he confided his hopes for the role to Perkins (were they lovers?) who snatched away the role when Jack Warner refused to by he rights for Hunter.
All in all, maybe a better backstage story than the movie itself.
PS And, yes, Perkins IS a most unconvincing basketball player in Tall Story.