Over the weekend I took the opportunity to watch Hollywood ‘s latest baseball movie. Trouble with the Curve stars Clint Eastwood as Gus Lobel, a scout working in the Atlanta Braves organization. Although the plot is extremely predictable, I still found it to be enjoyable.
It’s a timely piece that touches on the debate between old-school scouting techniques versus new-age statistical analysis. Lobel’s refusal to step into the computer age, coupled with his deteriorating eyesight put his job in jeopardy. Scouting Director Pete Klein, played by John Goodman, worried about his aging employee and friend, asks Lobel’s daughter (Amy Adams) to accompany her father on a scouting trip.
While in North Carolina scouting the nation’s top high school hitting prospect, the two encounter Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake). Flanagan, who was scouted and signed by Lobel a few years earlier and had his pitching career cut short by injury, quickly falls for Lobel’s daughter. Mickey, named after Mickey Mantle, is just as baseball savvy as she is beautiful.
Flanagan’s Red Sox have the first pick in the upcoming draft and Lobel’s Braves will pick second. The fact that those two teams had the worst records in the league was a little hard to believe, but I was willing to make the leap. The only other unrealistic scene, baseball-wise, came near the end of the film when a scout guaranteed that the franchise would have a winning team for the next five seasons if they picked the high school star. Obviously, in today’s game, high school players don’t go straight to the big leagues.
Otherwise, I thought the baseball scenes were well choreographed and believable. This is an area where many sports movies can fall flat. It was obvious that Warner Brothers took the baseball scenes seriously and spent some money on qualified consultants. Even though the high school slugger never left the batter’s box until the ball was already over the fence, I was willing to chalk it up to his arrogance.
Although it was predictable, the pace of the film was steady and I never became bored. The intertwining of multiple themes meant there was something every member of the family could embrace. In addition to the baseball theme, there’s a love story. There’s the tension of a strained father/daughter relationship. There’s even an unlikely underdog who manages to triumph in the end.
It’s probably not going to win a bunch of Academy Awards, but I found Trouble with the Curve to be entertaining and well worth the time spent. It’s a feel good movie that is appropriate for the entire family.