Monday, September 24, 2012

Movie Review: Trouble With the Curve

The Curveball - a baseball pitch with a top spin which causes the ball to dive downward on its path to the plate; also known as a Breaking Ball. Unlike a fastball, to hit a curveball you let it come to you by waiting for the break, breaking the rhythm of your swing, and driving it out the same side of the plate that it came in on.

Life can throw curveballs too. Instead of being a predictable fastball, life can suddenly break. Your wife passes away and a job requiring you to travel to the most remote towns with even more remote dive bars isn't the life you want to raise a young daughter in. That's exactly the curveball Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) had thrown at him. Gus' daughter, Mickey Lobel (Amy Adams), was just six years old when he was unable to handle the curve and Gus sent Mickey away twice. Once to other relatives and the second time for good to boarding school where she grew up to be a successfull lawyer.

Now, with his eyes failing him in his old age, life is about to break on Gus Lobel once again. As a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves, Gus relies on his eyes to judge a players skills along with their character. His eyes are his tools. But with the advent of technology turning the art of scouting into a science of numbers Gus has one last chance by scouting a possible 1st round draft pick, Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill). Sensing something is wrong with Gus, his fellow scout and cohort of 30 years, Pete Klein (John Goodman), turns to Mickey for help. Pete asks Mickey to accompany Gus on the scouting trip because Gus' job is riding on the outcome of the decision. Left alone together for the first time in nearly 20 years Gus has to answer to Mickey how he handled life's two previous breaking balls. If Gus misses this curve he will strike out of Mickey's life for good.

The irony of learning to take your own advice is a hard pill to swallow. Constantly looking out at the prospects he scouted Gus made a living off assessing a player's ability to adjust to the breaking ball. However, he failed to look inward and adjust to the breaking balls life threw at him and failing to do so nearly cost him his relationship with Mickey. Because of Gus' rejection, Mickey has failed to make connections in her own personal life and faces a possible strikeout herself with Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake). Now father and daughter have to apply a lesson from the game they both love to their own lives in order to finish the game of life together.

Trouble with the Curve was very nostalgic for me as a former player and lover of the game. You're talking to the guy that caught chills from the sacrifice bunt scene in Mr 3000. So baseball movies are near and dear to me because the sport is a passion handed down from my father. The movie allowed me to have my geek moments on the mechanics of baseball as well as watch a great story of reconciliation unfold. I think it's more about reconciling than forgiving because Mickey realized the past was the past and she only longed for her father to get it right in the present. For me, that made the movie more of a feel good-er than a heart warmer because you were rooting for everyone: Gus, Mickey, and Johnny (plus 1 more but I won't spoil the plot for you). I only saw characters in this movie, not the actors that portrayed them even though Clint Eastwood played a stubborn old man almost too well. And unlike the the pop star he is, Justin Timberlake deserves a nomination for playing a convincing socially awkward Schmo, Johnny "The Flame" Flanagan. I wasn't familiar with Amy Adams but that'll change by the time she plays Lois Lane in the upcoming Man of Steel movie.

If you love baseball then you're already there. For everyone else, with Dredd3D and End of Watch in theaters this weekend it may be tempting to pack your weekend full of action but don't miss the chance to have a chill movie night out with Trouble with the Curve.


Disclaimer: I’m an employee of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, however the views expressed in this post are of my own.

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