Clint Eastwood returns from acting ‘retirement’ for at least the fourth time and this time around he’s supported by the likes of Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman. So is Trouble With The Curve a home-run or does it strike out? (I swear that’s the last of the baseball puns in this review.)

Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, an ageing scout for the Atlanta Braves franchise. He is months away from a new contract and he has no interest in retirement. Unfortunately for him his vision is beginning to fail. After some persuasion from Gus’ friend Pete Klein (Goodman), Gus’ daughter Mickey (Adams) goes along with him to scout a player. Along the way, Mickey strikes up a relationship with new scout Johnny Flanagan (Timberlake).

I’m always careful to err on the side of caution with spoilers, but honestly the film is incredibly formulaic. Curve‘s emotional beats are well handled but predictable, and when it tries to introduce two rather important plot points in the last half hour they are shoehorned in and given little to no build-up. This results in any emotional payoff missing the mark, which is disappointing as the performances, while not exactly award-winning, are enjoyable.

Eastwood still reminds us of why he continues to come back to the profession. He gives Gus a vulnerability, one that is hidden deep inside his proud and closed-off exterior. Adams is admirable as his determined daughter, portraying a genuine frustration towards Gus while also yearning for his adoration. Timberlake brings a lightness to the picture as he plays off Adams nicely. None show any real subtlety, but like the film itself, breaking new ground is not on the menu.

One of the major problems withCurve stems from the script and its uneven tone, one that seems to turn quite dark in an otherwise light picture. Some of the  dialogue is stilted, and director Robert Lorenz seems unsure about what identity he wanted his film to have, as there are elements of family drama, romantic comedy and a sports movie all mashed together. The result is each plot point feeling underdeveloped, so any drama is stripped away due to a lack of interest. If there had been more focus on the father-daughter relationship between Gus and Mickey, we might have had a more rewarding experience.

Ultimately, if your aim is to watch a film about a grizzled and distant old man who grows to care about a younger woman, then go watch Million Dollar Baby. If you want to watch a baseball movie, go watch Moneyball. If a romantic comedy is what you’re after, then go watch The Perfect Catch (well, maybe not that one). However, if the prospect of watching these three films seems daunting, then save time and watch Trouble with the Curve. But if you just want to watch a classic Eastwood performance from this year, then go watch him talk to that empty chair. It’s a lot more entertaining.

Conor Copeland

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