The world is changing. Technology has taken over a majority of the jobs that hardworking people have accomplished year after year. No one feels the pressure more than Gus (Clint Eastwood), one of the best scouts the MLB has ever seen. With old age kicking in and a developing case of Glaucoma, scouting for the Atlanta Braves will prove very difficult if he can't see the baseball on the field. Worried for both his career and his health, Pete Klein (John Goodman), Gus' great friend, enlists the help of Gus' successful daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), to watch over her father and make sure he's still worth his own legend. This vacation isn't ideal to any party involved as Gus enjoys himself, Mickey has a new business partnership she must finalize and neither have been close since Mickey was, at a young age, shipped to a foster home shortly after the death of her mother. After taking interest in a Red Sox scout, Johnny (Justin Timberlake), Mickey finds more to enjoy on her small vacation. But does Gus still have what once made him a scouting legend to prove retirement isn't the neccessary step in his career? As we all know, when it comes to Baseball, anything can happen.
Trouble With The Curve has a few landmarks of it's own, even prior to its release date. The directorial debut from longtime Malpaso producer Robert Lorenz happens to contain the first performance from Clint Eastwood after his announcement of retiring from acting, choosing to sit comfortably behind the camera in the directing chair. Eastwood's presence is one that at first comes across as meaningless as he has portrayed the old aged, ill tempered man who is losing his grip on his life. However, as we follow Gus on his journey, we realize that Gus hasn't always been this man who avoids deep conversations, preferring comparisons of Golden-Age actors to Ice Cube. Lorenz constructs a story that brings together three characters who are all at different points in their lives, yet are going down extremely similar paths. Gus has scouted almost his entire life and built a legend based entirely on his unique talents of spotting A-list players before other Major League teams can but is fighting to prove his age hasn't affected his skills. Having just been accepted into her dream job as a Partner in a major law firm in Atlanta, Mickey risks it all by taking immediate time off to help her father while he scouts. However, the cool and charismatic Johnny has been working his way up to announcing for MLB games after an unfortunate injury put an abrupt end to his hot-streak playing career. These characters and their stories all benefit from their relationships together and ultimately enhance the story by filling in a void felt in the middle of the Trouble's runtime.
Story development takes an unfortunate hit towards the middle, causing for some pacing issues that cause Trouble to stagger for a remainder of the film. However, thankfully, Lorenz' cast is always present in their respective characters to balance out a majority of the development issues. Eastwood plays Gus with his usual temper and shut-in behavior but shines in the smaller moments of putting on reading glasses and throwing a baseball to his daughter. Even at 82, Clint proves he is still a strong force both behind and in front of the camera. Practically tailored for the role of Johnny, Justin Timberlake sinks into the role of a man who lost his "Golden" years and is still looking for the next adventure. Timberlake plays Johnny as charming and likeable, but with a burning passion for what he loves to do. The winning achievement here has to go to Amy Adams as the busy and overly focused Mickey who can't develop a personal connection with even her father. The tenacity and emotion Adams brings to Mickey is classic work from a woman who has proved time and time again why she is one of the finer actresses the market has to offer. Adams will absolutely be the name on everyone's lips as the credits roll.
Sadly, as I briefly mentioned, Trouble With The Curve suffers from a slow-developing plot that forces the runtime to feel almost drudging. As characters and plot points are introduced, there are cues that signal audiences to specific details that make it very simple to piece things together. Thus, when pivotal plot twists are revealed, the audience feels bored as they have realized this moment was coming for an hour or so. Then again, Trouble is a story that prefers to bask in the journey, rather than the destination and the journey Lorenz' has captured is one that has it's fair share of great moments. Yet, these moments don't feel as important as they should be. Specifically, the realization of why Mickey and Gus haven't been close for decades comes across as forced and short of anything organic. With more focus on the importance of organic character interaction in serious moments, Trouble would have the ability to be a serious drama with some remarkable performances. Some minor characters, however, are given such a flat representation that their fate is practically spelled out on their face, notably Bo Gentry and Rigo "Peanut Boy" Sanchez. As it stands, Trouble With The Curve is a light drama that will keep families together through baseball and the realization of how love constantly reigns supreme.
Stepping up to the Major Leagues is never an easy thing to do, but Lorenz does his best. As a result, Trouble With The Curve has some great moments with surprising performances that can't quite outshine some of the film's slower moments and repetitive themes. The majority of the cast do what they can, but sadly, they're just not in homerun territory.