“Trouble With the Curve” never strays far from its comfort zone.
It’s predictable and kind of hokey, but it also won me over in spite of its missteps. It’s a film that gets by largely on its star power, with Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams making this much more bearable than it probably should be.
Eastwood plays Gus, an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves who is sent on a trip to scout a potential superstar. It’s the last chance for Gus, with his performance coming into question and his health waning.
Gus’ supervisor, Pete (John Goodman), wants Gus to succeed, so he convinces the scout’s daughter, Mickey (Adams), to join him on the trip to assist him.
This road trip opens old wounds, with Mickey – now a career-driven lawyer on the verge of earning a partnership – still resentful that Gus abandoned her after the death of her mother.
For a movie titled “Trouble with the Curve,” it’s ironic that Randy Brown’s script is basically a fat fastball over the middle of the plate. There’s not one moment in “Curve” that the average moviegoer won’t see coming way ahead of time. That includes the baseball stuff, which relies heavily on sports formula and clichés.
The ultimate payoff to why Mickey was left behind is also a head-scratcher – an out-of-left-field revelation that had me thinking I’d wandered into a different movie.
Yet, as weak as the script is, and as vanilla as Robert Lorenz’s direction is, it’s a testament to the two leads that I actually remained interested.
Sure, this is just Eastwood playing another variation on the same character Eastwood has played repeatedly in the twilight of his acting career, but Adams plays well off that. It gives the film a bit of chemistry that is definitely lacking in the dialogue and story.
Justin Timberlake also adds a spark, playing a rival scout who takes an interest in Mickey.
Seeing Eastwood, Adams and Timberlake work together is enough to give “Curve” a pass – but just barely.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is the big-budget blockbuster “The Avengers” (B+).
A movie five films in the making, “The Avengers” finally brings together a plethora of popular comic book characters, pieced together with wit and style by writer/director Joss Whedon.
“The Avengers” begins with Earth being threatened by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth). This forces director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), to assemble the only team of crime fighters that can possibly stop Loki, a squad that includes Thor, Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Captain America (Chris Evans).
The film opens with a bang and builds from there, a thrill ride peppered with Whedon’s trademark self-aware humor. It’s fun to watch all these egos clash, especially Downey, who just owns the Tony Stark role.
Evans has found his stride as well, and, in an added bonus, the script manages to milk some unexpected humor out of Hulk, which proves to be a pleasant surprise.
The humor and witty dialogue are key elements to “The Avengers,” with the action being the other major portion. It doesn’t disappoint, especially two extended set pieces. The first takes place on a hovercraft and the second is a great sequence depicting the climactic battle in New York City.
Those moments really brought out the kid in me. Sure, it’s mindless popcorn fluff, but it’s also pretty darn cool.
“The Avengers” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference and is now available on DVD.