Film Review : Trouble With the Curve
● By Justin Buettner
Gus Lobel, an old school baseball scout finds he is losing his sight just as his contract is about to expire with the Atlanta Braves. Having the second pick in the draft, his scouting assignment is of utmost importance. His daughter Mickey, discovers that her dad is losing his sight and attends the scouting trip with him in hopes of mending their broken relationship even though she is in the middle of an important case that could make her a partner in her law firm. The two but heads but will they come to see eye to eye?
I really wanted to like this movie. The cast on paper is great and after last year's Moneyball, movies based on the business of baseball has now proven to work. Unfortunately almost nothing in Trouble With the Curve worked for me as what seemed to be a promising premise turned into a flat, uninteresting and poorly made movie.
The worst problem with Trouble With the Curve is the writing. First time writer Randy Brown crafted a story devoid of big moments. Even worse the small moments don't carry much of an impact either. The dramatic fights all fall flat as the character's drift into exposition that again lack much of a punch. The dialogue is not much better either as the characters all are given a turn at what is probably supposed to be witty or deep emotional banter that again lacks any style, flair, or originality.
First time director Robert Lorenz did not help matters. Trouble With the Curve never firmly commits to a genre so it feels like it waffles between a comedy and a drama without doing either well. The style and tone of the movie feel like they are missing as the choices in camera angle and performance are curious at best. Speaking of camera angles, the cinematography is flat out terrible in this film. The colors were muted, the camera composition was plain and boring, and Tom Stern, the cinematographer, made several blatant errors that were just lazy. In one night scene you could clearly see they had one large light positioned behind a bush directly aimed at the actors, even student filmmakers go through greater lengths to light a scene more creatively.
The movie sports a seller cast which are completely wasted. I don't understand why they would all agree to a movie with so many glaring problems. Clint Eastwood, who also produced, delivers a performance that feels like he's sleepwalking through. He grunts and growls at all the appropriate parts but it is not even remotely as effective as Gran Torino. In fact all the grunts and growls seem more like a shtick as opposed to a performance by the end. None of it rings true to the character. When an actor starts playing the same character for every part, it no longer feels like a performance. Amy Adams gives a good effort, but her character is so inconsistent that her job becomes difficult. The other characters are not given much to work with including the great John Goodman and likable Justin Timberlake.
When Trouble With the Curve finally arrives at its ending, everything wraps up so perfectly I dare you not to roll your eyes. Perhaps a tidy ending would not be as offensive if it were happy, but we're any of the characters likable enough for the audience to be happy or even care about the outcome? Which brings me to another observation, the stakes were not high enough, or at least the movie did not build them up to be. The movie focuses most of the screen time on the character’s job security and relationship troubles and the ending dismissed both as being somewhat unimportant. Trouble With the Curve is a frustrating failure as its premise and talented cast suggested it should have been a much better movie. This is perhaps one of the most disappointing films of the year.
Films like Trouble With the Curve – Rocky Balboa, Secretariat, and The Perfect Game
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.