Wednesday, April 17, 2013

13. Trouble With the Curve - 2012 (USA)

For a movie starring Clint Eastwood, but not directed by Clint Eastwood, Trouble With the Curve is a very Clint Eastwood-y film. It has all the emotionally stunted stoicism of Million Dollar Baby, the well-timed light-hearted funny moments of Gran Torino, and all the research-heavy, industry know-how facts his films always surround.

Pretty impressive for writer Randy Brown, who has only ever been credited with this film. Or is it? The script is very formulaic, making you laugh just as the emotion starts weighing too heavy, or reminding you of Eastwood's character Gus' mortality just as you start to run away with his almost super-human baseball knowledge. It's got the romantic sub-plot, the rocky father-daughter relationship, and enough baseball facts and lingo to keep any avid fan interested, all without losing the everyday audience.

My money's on the script being written with Eastwood in mind, and I'd double that bet to say Eastwood had a lot to do with any in-production changes. After all, director Robert Lorenz has assisted Eastwood on numerous previous projects, including Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Absolute Power. This was pretty much stock-standard stuff for them.

Having said that, this film was incredibly enjoyable. It's clear Eastwood has stuck with this movie-making formula because it works. Chuck in a couple big - but safe - names like Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, and you've got a seller. Not necessarily Oscar material, but a movie that will sell tickets.

Timberlake and Adams were very well cast, and of course Eastwood has the grumpy old man routine down pat by now. And for all my cynical ticking of boxes, this film does have solid characterisation with very relatable relationships. You do become invested in the characters, and of course one of the things Eastwood does best is make you see the character, rather than the actor playing him/her. And that's truly one of the most successful things a filmmaker can do.

This film might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you've enjoyed one of Clint Eastwood's more recent films (that is to say, in the grumpy old man genre - a la Gran Torino), then chances are you'll enjoy Trouble With the Curve. After all, the only reason this film seems a little bit formulaic and tired is because Eastwood perfected movie making a long time ago.

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