Trouble with the Curve Review: Eastwood Is Grumpy, Hates Everyone
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Trouble with the Curve Review: Eastwood Is Grumpy, Hates Everyone

By Eric D. Snider | Film Reviews | September 21, 2012 | Comments ()


Trouble with the Curve begins with Clint Eastwood standing at a toilet, trying to sweet-talk the pee out of his bladder. I can't say the film gets much better after that, but I can say that this is the only scene in which Eastwood speaks directly to his penis.

As you may have heard in recent news reports, Eastwood is very old. His character in this flavorless, unsubtle dramatic comedy, an irascible bastard named Gus, is also very old. Gus has been a talent scout for the Atlanta Braves more or less since the invention of baseball, driving up and down the East Coast in search of promising young players. While his colleagues have started using things like "computers" and "statistics" to compile their data and make the bulk of their decisions, Gus still does it the old-fashioned way. You think a computer can tell you what's in a pitcher's heart or a batter's soul?? As far as Gus is concerned, you can take your Moneyball and your Internet and your fancy math numbers and cram 'em where the sun don't shine (e.g., Clint Eastwood's recalcitrant urethra).

Gus, his eyesight failing and his cranky stubbornness losing its charm, is rapidly becoming a dinosaur in the scouting business. His faithful friend Pete (John Goodman) is the only one left to stick up for him at the Braves' head office; the younger executives, typified by a smarmy jerk played by Matthew Lillard, think it's time to put him out to pasture.

At Pete's request, Gus' daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), a workaholic attorney (is there any other kind?) joins her dad on his current scouting expedition in North Carolina. Mickey grew up loving baseball and wishing Gus would show her some affection. They bicker constantly, primarily because Gus is as intractable and inflexible as his own pee-hole.

Seldom have I seen a movie so adamantly opposed to nuance. Every character is starkly Good or Bad, every line of dialogue on the nose, every motivation carefully spelled out. Mickey will make partner at her law firm if she wins the big case she's currently working on. She has a dull boyfriend whose only function is to be replaced by someone more interesting, a young talent scout played by Justin Timberlake. The player Gus is looking at is an arrogant showboater, while the humble immigrant family that runs the local motel has a teenage son who's a pretty good pitcher (HINT HINT). Gus' way of doing things must be vindicated, and those who would dare suggest he modernize his technique must be vilified and humiliated.

Written by first-timer Randy Brown and directed by Eastwood's long-time producer and assistant director Robert Lorenz, Trouble with the Curve is the movie equivalent of a slow pitch straight down the middle: predictable, easy, and hardly worth the effort required to hit it. What it is not, curiously enough, is a baseball movie. The joy of the sport is never depicted or even acknowledged. The gradual repairing of Gus and Mickey's relationship is the focus, but good luck finding anything relatable there, either. To be honest, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Brown and Lorenz had never seen a baseball game or witnessed an interaction between a human father and his adult daughter.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Rex

    Well, the RT audience gives this film a solid 68%. That means you Far Left Party types can take this curveball somewhere and watch it pop out of your Libtard mouth.

  • special snowflake

    Wow, it truly blows my mind how the geniuses, all twenty (20) of you including the reviewer at my '19 comments' count before posting, seem to gather at just the perfect time and have me howling with laughter at the zingers coming out one right after another, with some thoughtful commentary to catch my breath.
    Seriously, from Mrcreosote all the way to Eric D, I have loved reading every word, just incredibly funny; of course, I have to come along and break the streak, but good god, if you had just come to this straight from reading the uncharacteristically crappy review from Dustin beforehand, you would understand why I really needed some good humor to get a decent Pajiba fix on a Friday.

  • DenG

    This "Gus" character sounds like "Walt" in Gran Torino. Deja vuuuuu

  • Odnon.

    I heard the original title was "Trouble with the Chair".

  • jM

    Photo caption: Clint Eastwood stares at a stadium of empty chairs and doesn't know which one to yell at first.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Does the movie deal with the fact that the father is 50 years older than the daughter? I've been wondering if that's an aspect of the relationship that's actually explored.

  • SorayaS

    Hmm, my dad is 45 years older than me and I don't think we've had any generational differences that are more pronounced than my friends with younger parents. What sort of issues are you thinking of?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    It differs from family to family - my parents are 24 years older than my oldest brother, and 45 years older than my youngest brother. I see a difference in the way my parents relate to them - partially that the times have changed, partially that being an older parent leads to some different choices.

    I also have seen big differences, in general, in what an 80 year old man thinks a 30ish woman should be doing with her life versus what a 60 year old man thinks.

  • Jennface

    I think Eastwood has kids with a large, if not 50 year difference in age. My stepfather was 43 years older than I was. I don't find it all that odd.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I'm glad the film makers decided that he should talk to his penis and not his testicles. They probably realized that it would be difficult for the viewer to discern whether he was speaking to his scrot or the bathroom floor.

  • Maguita NYC

    Good thing he wasn't sitting on a toilet... Because that would give a whole new meaning to "Dropping the kids at the pool".

  • googergieger

    Goodman looks like a younger and healthier version of Wilford Brimley in that pic.

    That is all.

    *leaves room*

  • Groundloop

    Yeah, I'm seeing it. I hope he can avoid the diabeetus.

  • Guest

    Ima go rewatch my Leone DVDs, the only Eastwood I ever gave a shit about. He's so glorious in those films...and so meh everywhere else.

  • Mrcreosote

    The trailers for this movie make me irationally angry. First of all, YES he should retire! He can't see, is out of touch and refuses to use modern tools. Would you trust a doctor who still used bleeding? A laywer with an office full of scribes? F that you fossil. And speaking of lawyers, his daughter is an intelligent successful lawyer, and that's treated like dogshit next to the noble profession of scouting young men for a fucking game. How dare she attempt a professional career with all this book learnin' when she could use heart and grit and moxie and spunk and possibly a few other bodily fluids. Usin' yer braiiiiiiiin? That's fer pussies!! Look people I know baseball is a glorious sport with all it's history and pagentry and appeal to colorless douchebags like George Will and Peter King, but it's still JUST A FUCKING GAME!!!! Really this artificial sweetener of a movie is as phony and played as baseball's appeal.

  • no one

    Clint plays a really old guy? Really? I had no idea.

  • AudioSuede

    When we saw the trailer for this, my wife was like, "Oooh, we should see that!"

    And despite Amy Adams and JT and John Goodman, I put my foot down, because Clint Eastwood hasn't done anything I actually enjoyed since Unforgiven.

    And then the RNC happened, and chair-talking was all the rage, and suddenly my wife flip-flopped and agreed that this does, indeed, look like tripe.

    You see? Politics DOES have an impact on our everyday lives.

  • no one

    If you ddidn't know already, now you know exactly how a lot of us feel about Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Kevin spacey, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Samuel Jackson, and most sadly Matt Damon. Among many, many others.
    I don't get why actors want to allianate half their potential audience.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Actors don't necessarily *want* to alienate half their audience, but they also shouldn't feel compelled to live their entire lives in a way so as to avoid it. Any more than a person in any business should.

    Actors are people too!

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    EricD, are you suggesting that those people have nothing of value to add to the discourse? Because of their profession? Rattling off a list of people who happen to have the same profession and (generally) similar political views is kinda weird.

    I suspect your problem is that you feel actors have a megaphone that is outsized compared to what they have to say. They get "heard" even on topics where their knowledge is poor or at least disagrees with your worldview.

    I've always found the "actor hate" very strange because all of the reasons for hating left wing actors apply to right wing actors, including President Reagan. His ability to be "heard" in the early part of his political career was directly attributable to his fame as an actor.

    Ironically, early this year when Romney was quipping "we should have a constitutional amendment to require business experience to be President", All I could think of is how Reagan would have failed that litmus test.

    In your list, I see some pretty thoughtful people, and some mouthy wackjobs. the only real thing they have in common is the outsized audience they possess.

  • no one

    I am saying it's not a question of whether or not it is of value. What I am saying is that the right to free speech does not mean the right to no consequences. If someone’s profession depends on the good will of an audience and he makes statements that half that audience finds disagreeable they need to be prepared to deal with the outcome.

    Also, we are talking about people who are often undereducated and live very pampered and sheltered lives. I think the opinions of the average road work crew would be as valid and informed as what comes out of Hollywood.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    See, the first paragraph is spot on (free speech is not consequence free), but the second... no, not even close.

    Actors in some cases may be under educated, but there is a shockingly high number of them who have done time at reputable Colleges/Universities. (yes, I'm sure there are a few Colombia grads on road crews as well, but percentage wise, probably not)

    The other big misconception here is that hollywood types are likely to be poorly informed. Without stipulating to their intellect or education, the one thing these people have is time. Time to read books, the news papers, People magazine, you name it.

    Road crew staff are busy fixing roads most of the day, and are therefore just more limited in hours of the day to read, watch and listen. No judgement, not a simple matter of time.

    Finally, a certain portion of a actor's job is to be able to view a situation through the eyes of someone else - ostensibly the character they are playing. Doing this well often requires become informed about the underpinnings of this character, though not always (I'm reminded of the scene in Notting Hill when floppy hair asks "what was your character's motivation" answer: "he is a killer robot").

    Oh, and Matt Damon knows his shit - I don't always agree with him, but he's pretty shaaap politically.

  • AudioSuede

    The day Tom Hanks starts talking to a chair and going senile, I'll start questioning his judgement.

    Also, it helps that all of those people are amazing at what they do. Clint Eastwood grumbles about "Kids these days," points a camera at the most boring angle he can find, and wins awards for still being alive.

  • no one

    The incredibly stupid things Tom Hanks said about why we fought in WWII were way worse than Eastwood talking to an empty chair. The difference is, what Hank's said wasn't blown up in the media because for the most part, he sticks to the lefty hollywood line.
    I was a huge fan of Tom Hanks, I saw him as this generations Jimmy Stewart. But I wouldn't see one of his movies now if I were paid to attend.

  • Gina

    I never heard those statements from Hanks, but I had to look them up, and yeah, you're right - they are stupid. The US and Japan were warring over territory in the Pacific, not some unspecified "cultural differences" that existed well before 1941.

  • ee

    Is it really half? Do most people really not see a Matt Damon movie because of his politics? (And what politics are those, the most I've ever seen him associated with is providing clean water for people, which is hard to argue) Hell, lots of people saw Mel Gibson movies (for awhile) after his batshit crazy came to the forefront.

  • no one

    I didn't say half wouldn't see the movies a particular actor. But anytime an actor takes a position in politics there is a very good chance they are going to disagree with at least half of their audience. It's a question of degree. Someone like Sean Penn I am sure there is a very large group of people who simply will not see his movies. Matt Damon isn't nearly that well known for his politics so there will be less people avoiding him.

  • Maguita NYC

    I absolutely agree.

    His RNC speech did impact my opinion on Clint Eastwood, Actor and movie Director. It will take a few months after elections have passed before I look at him as an artist again.

    And every time the trailer plays, I think "I would rather stare at an empty chair".

  • Daisy Dukes

    You had me at pee-hole.

  • e jerry powell

    Pee-hole, Pie-hole, whatever; just cram it all in there.

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