There’s no reason Trouble with the Curve should play as well as it does; it’s formulaic and utterly predictable. But it flows so well, and the cast is so likable, that it’s hard to resist. When I interviewed Clint Eastwood at the time of Gran Torino four years ago he stopped short of saying he was retiring from acting, but he did wonder aloud how many good parts were being written for a man his age. I’m happy to report that he’s found one that fits him like a glove—a baseball glove, that is.
Eastwood never breaks a sweat as a veteran baseball scout who uses old-school techniques—his eyes, ears, and instinct—to find promising young talent. But the “suits” in the front office, particularly one arrogant young fellow (played by Matthew Lillard) who banks on computer statistics, thinks he’s over the hill. That’s why a longtime friend and colleague (John Goodman) urges Eastwood’s daughter, an uptight corporate lawyer (Amy Adams), to check up on him as he embarks on a new spring-training season. Eastwood and Adams have a rocky relationship, at best, but it turns out she picked up more than a passing knowledge about baseball while she was growing up. Justin Timberlake is well cast as a former Eastwood discovery who’s just joined the scouting pool and takes more than a passing interest in Adams.
Randy Brown’s screenplay (his first) connects all the dots in a pleasing way and avoids the pitfall of becoming cute or overly sentimental. In the same vein, the stars don’t overplay their parts, as they could have under less watchful eyes. With Eastwood’s long-running production team in place, first-time director Robert Lorenz (who produced the star’s most recent films) never makes a false move.
Only after the film was over did I realize that there hadn’t been any gratuitous cursing, let alone sex or nudity, in Trouble with the Curve. It’s a film you could enjoy with your adolescent children…or your parents. It’s not what anyone would term cutting-edge moviemaking, but it’s a solid piece of entertainment—and you don’t have to be in Eastwood’s age bracket to appreciate that.