Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The trouble with a hanging curve is that it can become a gopher ball

Baseball movies, and sports movies in general, can be pretty intense, but “Trouble with the Curve”, in which Clint Eastwood plays an aging scout for the Atlanta Braves, seems a bit light in the loafers, and a bit trite, even patronizing.

Eastwood did not direct this film; the direction and writing honors go to Robert Lorenz and Randy Brown. Perhaps it shows.

The story meets the cluches of script writing.  Gus (Eastwood’s characters) is already going blind with macular degeneration. He’s mistrustful of the computers and statistics, and goes by instinct, which could make him valuable.  His daughter (Amu Adams) risks a law firm partnership to come and look after him out of filial responsibility, but she doesn’t fill the role of Jonah Hill’s character in “Moneyball”. 

Providing triangulation is a Red Sox scout   (and announcer wannabe) Johnny (Justin Timberlake) who looks and acts a bit silly. There’s an introductory scene where he, in a soliloquy, narrates a kids’ farmyard game.  His backstory is that of a pitcher whose career was ruined by injury – perhaps supporting the caution the Nationals have taken with Stephen Strasburg.  As for his appearance, at age 31, he looks less “virile” than he did in his last days with ‘Nsync.  Why was edge toned down, or why did he “lose it”?

There’s a line somewhere about a “retarded question” that should have read “clown question” (as per Bryce Harper).

There’s also a subplot about how players are signed, about a particularly obnoxious minor league rookie who slugs homers but can’t hit the curve (and how Gus can hear this is interesting), and, at the end, about a left-handed pitcher who looks like the Nationals’ Gio Gonzales (and throws like him, too). 

The film was shot on location in Georgia (and North Carolina), including some scenes in Turner Field in Atlanta. As of this writing, the Braves are just behind (four games) the Nationals for the 2012 National League East race. 

The official site from Warner Brothers is here.

I wish Warner Brothers would use its wonderful Casablanca musical trademark to open every film.

I saw the film in a newly renovated downstairs auditorium in the AMC Courthouse in Arlington VA.  The red cushioned seats are wonderful, and stadium seating has been added. The screen is still wide enough not to have to be cropped vertically for 2.35:1 (as in this movie).  The larger auditoriums are on higher floors, and some are not yet open from the renovation.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Turner Field, Atlanta. Second picture, minor league park in Richmond, VA (mine). 

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