Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake in “Trouble With The Curve”

You want romance and character development? See Bull Durham.  Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams in Trouble With The Curve aren’t in the same league with Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham.

Trouble With The Curve is all Clint Eastwood. The romance is fluff. Baseball is only the setting. Trouble With The Curve is about life and loss, failure and decline, maybe even aging gracefully. Not that I’m calling Clint Eastwood graceful.

Trouble With The Curve begins as a baseball movie that only a grumpy old man could love. But it fools you like a curveball in the dirt, and turns into, of all things, a chick flick. It might be the best baseball/romance combination since Bull Durham. Both movies are about life-changing events, about going with the curveballs life throws at you.

How do you get away with casting Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in the same film? You add Amy Adams as daughter of the old man and love interest of the young one.

Ms. Adams is a sixth-year law firm associate on the verge of making partner. She’s an emotionally unavailable workaholic. Justin Timberlake is a formerly promising pitcher, still young but demoted to scouting after he burned out his pitching arm. He’s emotionally available enough for both of them.

English: Clint Eastwood at the 2010 Toronto In...

Clint Eastwood at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clint Eastwood plays himself. He’s an angry old baseball scout. His vision is blurry, he has trouble peeing, and even more trouble getting his car out of the garage. And his contract is up in three months. Looks like he’s on his last legs and at the end of his career. (I mean his baseball career, not his acting or directing career.)  Eastwood drives a Mustang in Trouble With The Curve, reminiscent of Kevin Costner in Bull Durham; Timberlake drives a Pontiac convertible.

All three characters are haunted by the past and live in a disappointing present. It’s not giving anything away to say that the girlish lawyer and the boyish baseball scout are unconvincing. Their romantic connection  is extrapolated from a few brief encounters at games during the day and in bars at night. But they’re likable and attractive and young, so who cares? For the duration of this one film, accept the premise that baseball trivia questions, interrupted by phone calls from the office, generate sparks of attraction.

You want romance? A brief, moonlit scene has the would-be lovers talking near a lake, the Pontiac parked romantically in the background. Adams remains resolutely unavailable, but like I said, Timberlake doesn’t have that problem. He initiates what might be the most circumspect skinny-dipping scene in film history. Truth be told, it’s skinny-dipping in underwear. They jump off the dock in their underwear. For Justin Timberlake’s female fans, there’s a fleeting view of his backside in underpants before he dives into the lake. Alas, for male viewers, Amy Adams keeps her T-shirt on as she does a cannonball off the dock.

In one of the bar scenes, Adams says, “Being alone sucks.” All three of them are alone. Eastwood’s character has been chronically alone since his wife died, long time ago. Amy was chronically alone because her single dad, doing what he felt was best, shunted her off to relatives and then to boarding school.

Clint, Amy, and Justin are together in North Carolina, scouting a high school slugger with a striking resemblance to Babe Ruth. All of their careers are on the line, for different reasons.

Of necessity, Amy acts as her father’s eyes at the ball games, and insists on driving his car in the interest of safety. There’s actually a scene in which she demands his car keys. Surprise: After a brief argument, Clint hands over the keys! Can you imagine Clint Eastwood giving up the car keys?

Despite all his failings, Eastwood is the wise old man in this film. He impatiently encourages the Amy-and-Justin romance. Most important, he somehow discerns that the high school slugger has trouble with the curveball, an insight that Amy confirms by watching the kid’s swing.

“You’ve got to know when to walk away,” Clint explains to Justin and Amy. But later he tells Justin, “This isn’t the time to walk away.”

Despite Clint’s spot-on assessment of the slugger, the front office drafts the player. Everything falls apart. Clint Eastwood’s scouting career is doomed, Justin Timberlake’s hopes of becoming a sports announcer are dashed, and Amy Adams is passed over for partner. And, of course, the romance crashes and burns.

There’s nothing more I can say without giving away the ending. (Except that an unlikely  highlight of the film is Clint Eastwood singing “You Are My Sunshine.”  I hope they make the soundtrack available.)

See Trouble With The Curve. You’ll be glad you did.

— John Hayden

(A personal postscript: Now and then, you read a book or see a movie that’s exactly what you needed at the very moment. I’ve experienced it several times with books. I once reviewed a novel that reflected the trajectory of my life.  Last night, I walked into a movie that reflected me right now.  Explanation: The motel where I work is closed for the winter. The door is locked. Your blogger is 64, at loose ends, and the future looks . . . uncertain.  Enter Clint Eastwood as an over-the-hill baseball scout with prostate trouble and failing eyesight. He lives alone. He’s clumsy and accident-prone. Like many of us single men, he enjoys unhealthy food and an erratic lifestyle.)

If you’re interested in the book I alluded to, it’s Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler, and the review starts here.

The classic baseball photo: batter, catcher, umpire; all intent on the pitch.

The classic baseball photo: batter, catcher, umpire; all intent on the pitch.

24 thoughts on “Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake in “Trouble With The Curve”

  1. Pingback: The Trouble with “The Curve” « movie nerd confessions

  2. I had a little smile on my face reading this, there seemed to be a lot of humor in between the lines. I could not tell if you thought the movie is great until you recommended it actually. It felt as if you watched if from the perspective of a squinting skeptic, who didn’t want to like the movie, but then did.


    • Glad I kept you in suspense until the last line. You’re, right, I tend to be a skeptic. I sought out the movie because it’s about baseball and has an interesting cast. I knew right off the bat that I could relate to Clint Eastwood’s grumpy old man routine. I was a little too critical of Timberlake and Adams. They’re a fun couple!


  3. This movie was filmed at least partially in the college town of Athens, GA (my alma mater). I know people that watched it being filmed from their flat windows. You had me worried that the film completely sucked. I love surprise endings. ~Sonya


    • Most of the professional critics have not been kind to “Trouble With The Curve.” But I think the general audience will love it. It’s real, it’s uplifting, it’s both warm and funny in places, and it has a happy ending. You feel good, listening to the music as the credits roll past at the end.


  4. Eastwood, Eastwood, Eastwood, and the whole father/daughter thing. A little corny, definitely predictable, but a pleasure to watch. They even threw in a little vintage Eastwood when he was pounding his young daughter’s potential molester in the barn. Good review, congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed,” and I hope your flow (wink wink) is better.


  5. What? U mean there isnt any gunfire in this movie?

    I have to admit, I probably wont see it in theatres cuz I already deal with a grumpy old man in real life (my 76yr old dad), Im going thru a divorce (so romance to me is as attractive as lint on toast), and I am pissed Clint didnt take advantage of showing off Justin (Im Bringin Sexy Back) Timberlake body in the nude. BUT…I may rent it though. If you took the time to write the post, there must be something there.

    THanks for sharing.


  6. Clint Eastwood’s performance in “Trouble With The Curve” is far superior to his appearance at the RNC. I want to see the movie again, but I hope I’ve seen the replay of the interview with the empty chair for the last time.


  7. Pingback: Bull Durham: 25 Years Later | WORK IN PROGRESS

  8. One of the better movies I have seen–Eastwood is great, never knew much about Amy Adams until now–she is a real good actress, and I was very impressed with Timberlake–warm good all around film–ad Goodman and a few of the other co-stars–well casted and written. The ending is great, will not give it away for those that have not seen it–but it could not have been better. You do not see movies like this very often–I highly recommend it and also a good DVD to have on hand for one of those snowy or rainy days,


    • You’re right! “Trouble With The Curve” is a pleasure to watch. Not too sappy, not too deep, good story with meaning. Excellent actors. And baseball. Just right! Great flick to watch while we’re waiting for spring training to begin.


  9. Bo Gentry threatens the nerdiest guy on the team that he better get on base so Bo can drive him in. But assuming that Bo is the clean up hitter, then the nerd must have been number 3 in the line-up, a spot usually occupied by one of the teams best hitters/athlete


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