run time: 111 mins
considered: Drama, Sport
director: Robert Lorenz
starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick, Scott Eastwood, Bob Gunton, George Wyner, Chelcie Ross, Raymond Anthony Thomas
movie summary: A professional baseball scout has an extremely tough job, they attend many high school and college games across the country (and world) to find their next prospect to sign in the big leagues. Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) has been a scout for the Atlanta Braves for over thirty years, his eye sight has faded over time but he knows the game so well that he can tell how good a kid is by the sound of a hit off his bat or by the sound the ball makes when it reaches the catcher’s glove. The organization believes it’s time for new blood in the scouting department even though management respects Gus enough to give him one more chance to sign the best kid currently playing high school baseball, Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill).
Gus heads out of the city on a road trip to North Carolina where he plans to scout Bo game by game to see if he has the stuff. His boss Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard) thinks that Bo may the best kid to come into the draft in decades, he spends hours crunching numbers on his computer to get projections on how good he can be. Braves general manager Vince (Robert Patrick) listens to everything Phillip says and thinks it’s time to cut Gus loose. Pete Klein (John Goodman) is Gus’ best friend who begs for this one opportunity to prove that Gus still has what it takes. To insure this road trip is successful he recruits Gus’ daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to tag along to support him, watch over him, and keep him focused.
At the first game of the road trip the pair meet a new scout from the Boston Red Sox, Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake). Johnny is a retired pitcher that Gus actually drafted for the Braves back in the 1990s. He blew out his arm pitching so after rehab the Braves cut him even though Gus thought he could still pitch. Johnny and Gus meet after the game and exchange greetings before Mickey catches Johnny’s eye. Unfortunately for him she’s a lawyer at a firm that is about to make her a partner and she’s currently in a relationship. The three of them find out they are staying in the same town at the same hotel and offer to spend their down time together. Gus isn’t really open to anyone hitting on his daughter let alone Johnny.
The scouts follow Bo and his baseball team across the state as Bo carries his team to the playoffs. Gus isn’t sold on the kid just yet because he doesn’t see or hear potential. To make matters worse Gus is very irritated that Mickey is on the trip with him, they have lived separate lives for a long time and rarely talk. She knows about his ailing health issues while he says he’s fine and then denies everything. The trip is turning out to be a disaster for Gus after he crashes his car and gets a phone call from Pete that Phillip is going to let him go at the end of his contract. He tells Gus that the Braves are going to select Bo no matter what he reports back.
Mickey tries to get on her dad’s good side by offering to help him scout. She walks up and down the first and third baseline every time Bo is at bat. She’s been around the game her whole life and knows what to look for, she figures the help will wrap up this trip sooner rather than later and she can return to her normal life. Johnny begins to “scout” next to her every time he gets a chance and two quickly bond. After the games the pair go out for a drinks, dancing, and walks. There is a romantic spark between them that neither can deny, but it’s a complicated situation because Johnny and Gus are both scouting the same kid to save their respective careers.
Gus comes to realize that Bo is a one-dimensional player, that he can’t hit certain pitches and that he just doesn’t have “it”. He tries to convince Johnny that if the Red Sox pick him with the number one overall selection they would be making a huge mistake. He tells Pete the same thing but Phillip brushes off this advice and wants Gus fired as soon as he gets back. Mickey meanwhile has run into some trouble at work and takes a day to relax at the hotel. Outside some kids are playing catch and she hears the sound. She can’t believe it and goes out to watch the kid throw and in an attempt to get a closer look she dons the catcher’s equipment to catch the kid herself. She feels so excited that she calls Pete to organize a try out for the kid.
The Braves management think this is just a side-show but give the kid a chance anyways. Gus, Pete, Phillip, and Vince are all amazed with this kid’s potential that they realize they may have scouted the wrong kid.
my thoughts: I went to see Trouble with the Curve three times during its run at the theatres because it’s a fantastic story about family, friends, and baseball. There are movies about baseball that focus on the game and then there are a few movies out there that focus more on the human aspect of the game. This story is more about the drama, politics, and emotions that occur off the field instead of the typical hollywood movie where the kid smacks a game winning home run and everyone goes home happy. This film presents a heart warming story about never giving up on your father or best friend when times get tough.
Clint Eastwood has been around the business since 1955 and proves with his role as Gus Lobel that he still has it. He’s the perfect stubborn old man who has been doing his job the exact same way for 30 years that he flat-out refuses to change with the times. People begin to question his abilities when his eye sight fails and how he reads the newspapers instead of doing all his research on computers. His track record for signing star players is long but has run dry the last couple of years which forces management to steer him towards retirement, the only problem with that is the team would be cutting their most talented scout.His role reminds me of someone I used to know growing up. When I was in high school I was on the baseball team and after I graduated I wrote for the local newspaper. One of my history teachers was the sports reporter for the other local paper, we would attend games together and every time I would get excited for a hit he wouldn’t move and say it’s just a fly ball. I was always like how do you know and his response would always be “I heard it”. Just like my teacher, Eastwood’s character just knows the game and those instincts are a skill that can not be taught.
Amy Adams is great as Mickey Lobel because of her determination to help and be there for her dad when things appear to be falling apart for him. She’s never really understood why her dad is so distant with her, his only child, and hopes that some alone time with him will allow them to finally have a talk. Mickey loves the game because she’s been around it her whole life and because the game means so much to her dad. Her attitude and perspective on life and her career will change on the trip thanks to the experiences she has with her dad and Johnny. Speaking of Johnny, Justin TImberlake also does a great job as the rookie scout who reconnects with an old friend and finds the girl of his dreams. He spends the majority of the movie as the referee between a bickering Gus and Mickey but when he gets her all alone he tries his best to open her up and get her away from his phone. Johnny is a happy-go-lucky guy with a free spirit who happens to be around at the time when both Gus and Mickey need someone to open them up.
my final thoughts: Trouble with the Curve is by far one of the best baseball movies out there and even though it is a sports movie, it doesn’t focus on the game of baseball itself. It’s a great story about the human aspect of the game on and off the field with a focus on family and friends. The ending is very fitting for the story and will please many fans who want to have a smile on their face when the credits roll.
my star rating: 9 out 10
imdb.com: 6.8 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 50% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 3 out 4