Friday, September 21, 2012

REVIEW: Trouble with the Curve

The title of Trouble with the Curve turns out to be quite appropriate for this movie. Its story certainly doesn't throw any curve balls. It's about as predictable as Lucy Van Pelt missing the fly ball in the outfield.

But in fact, I just threw a curve ball. My lead paragraph may make it sound like I didn't enjoy the movie. In fact, a very much did, because it has such an appealing cast.

Sure, regular readers of my reviews might say. You say that just because Amy Adams is in it. True enough, I do. And she's delightful as always. But she's not the only one who makes the movie fun to watch. The rest of the actors do too - so much so that it gives the lie to the idea that movie stars don't have much pull anymore. They certainly do. Perhaps they don't influence the opening weekend grosses as much as they did, but they go a long way towards making OK stories into better than OK movies.

Trouble with the Curve is notable as being the first movie starring Clint Eastwood that Eastwood didn't also direct, since 1993's In the Line of Fire. Instead, Robert Lorenz, Eastwood's producing partner takes the reigns, working with many members of Eastwood's behind the camera crew. He does a solid, if unremarkable job. He's certainly not much able to elevate the story, which might have ended up as a direct-to-disc title without its A-list cast. But what Lorenz does do well is showcase the actors a their best.

No matter where one stands on Eastwood's RNC performance, Trouble with the Curve is a bracing reminder of just how well he holds the movie screen. At first, he seems to be playing a slightly less surly version of his Gran Torino character, but this performance is more complex than that. Eastwood conveys the shifting moods of his character gracefully, with the sure hand of the old pro he is.

Justin Timberlake, playing a foil for Eastwood and a love interest for Adams proves again that he himself has screen charm to spare. His character seems grafted onto the picture to give it a romance it doesn't truly need, but his strong chemistry with Adams outshines the clich├ęs.

Were this movie playing 70 years ago, Turner Classic Movies would be selling it today as part of their Archive Collection, meaning it's one of those movies that isn't much in and of itself, but you sure like to see the stars do their stuff. And I pitch that as a compliment.