“Trouble With the Curve” begins with Clint Eastwood talking to his prostate and ends with the 82-year-old actor actually saying, “That’s what you call trouble with the curve!” All that’s missing is a freeze frame.
Directed by long-time Eastwood associate Robert Lorenz and written by Randy Brown (his feature screenwriting debut), “Trouble With the Curve” is certainly one of the worst baseball movies ever made. To wit: At one point, two waiters talk about how Jair Jurrjens threw a perfect game — the same Jair Jurrjens who owns a 6.89 ERA in 48 1/3 terrible innings for the Atlanta Braves this year. (Jurrjens, completely healthy, is still in the minors because of his ineffectiveness, btw.)
“Trouble With the Curve” is, as one person noted, “‘Moneyball’ for morons.” It treats technology like a form of dark magic, and those who use technology like Death Eaters. As you might have guessed from the on-the-nose title, the film is tangentially about a top prospect named Bo Gentry (a five-tool player, we’re told, despite the fact that Gentry looks like an offensive lineman who let himself go), who may or may not have trouble with the curve. Spoiler alert: He does, but only Eastwood’s Gus Lobel, a grizzled scout with failing eyesight, can tell … because scouting reports and breakdowns of how Gentry does against specific pitches don’t exist in this world of “computers.” (Oh, wait: they would.)
So, the baseball part of “Trouble With the Curve” is total garbage. Which leaves the father-daughter relationship between Eastwood and a very game Amy Adams, who spends most of the film dragging Eastwood along with all her might, as the heart of the film. That doesn’t work either, however, because the motivations are all murky. “Trouble With the Curve” seems to be leading toward a big epiphany — sort of like “Million Dollar Baby,” but not — and then just stops. Without giving away the ending: Something happened to Adams’ Mickey when she was young, which forced Gus to leave her in the hands of relatives and boarding schools. Except what happens isn’t Gus’ fault and isn’t enough of a reason for him to abandon her — an act that is basically unforgivable. Yet “Trouble With the Curve” plays the abandonment as noble? Which is probably fine since everything is forgotten by the end anyway, and Gus and Mickey reconcile if for no other reason than the movie is over.
There have been worse movies this year than “Trouble With the Curve” (“Premium Rush” and “Dark Shadows,” for sure), but not much worse. Only “mental masochists” (and maybe Art Howe) should bother.