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Trouble with the Curve(2012)
An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.
For more about Trouble with the Curve and the Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray release, see Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 17, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick
Director: Robert Lorenz
» See full cast & crew
Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray Review
"With all due respect, Pete, the game's changed. It's so much bigger now. It's global..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 17, 2012
Trouble with the Curve is all but a neat 'n tidy point-counterpoint to Bennett Miller and Aaron Sorkin's Oscar-worthy Moneyball, extolling the long lost art of baseball scouting over the cold, faceless statistics of major league number crunching. Director Robert Lorenz and screenwriter Randy Brown offer gruff romanticism over game-changing mathematics. Family drama over closed door shakeups. And a very different love of the game; one that lives for the narrowing of an eye, the soft crunch of dirt beneath a pair of cleats, the sizzle of a pitch, the crack of a bat connecting with a ball or the sharp thwump of a catcher's mitt cradling a strike. Lorenz, Clint Eastwood's go-to executive producer and assistant director for the last fifteen years, isn't fresh off the bench either, and Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman all turn in fine performances. The first-time feature film director does make a few rookie mistakes, though, assembling a heavy handed supporting cast, resting his hopes on a shaky third act, and refusing to bench a grizzled old sports movie veteran that should have retired thirty years ago: melodrama.
Ailing Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel (Eastwood) isn't getting any younger. His eyes are getting progressively worse, his stubbornness is souring and the team's GM (Robert Patrick) is starting to heed the advice of a shrewd statistician named Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard) who's gunning for a job in management. Unbeknownst to Gus, though, his latest scout -- evaluating a hot-headed high schooler with a mean swing -- may be his last, if that is Sanderson can prove his approach superior. Worried, Gus' friend and colleague Pete Klein (Goodman) turns to Gus' estranged daughter Mickey (Adams), a talented attorney on the verge of becoming a partner at her firm, and asks her to check in on her father. Mickey is reluctant to intervene, but soon finds herself by her dad's side, where she reconnects with a love of baseball and slowly begins to yearn for a relationship with her father. In the meantime, she also makes a connection with Red Sox scout Johnny Flanagan (Timberlake), a former pitcher Gus himself discovered once upon a time.
Pairing an old man's lament with a young woman's empowerment, Trouble with the Curve is at its best when Gus, Pete, Mickey and Johnny are at bat, and the character bits are far more involving than the baseball particulars. A dear but dusty sense of center-field nostalgia prevails, but a deep appreciation or understanding of the game isn't required. It helps, of course, as do childhood memories of eating ballpark hot dogs slathered in ketchup and mustard, scrambling for foul balls, erupting as a homerun ball clears the wall, stretching at the seventh inning and sitting next to your father or grandfather, listening to stories of games long forgotten and days long past. But that's every baseball movie. Curve thankfully boasts a lineup of strong lead performances. Eastwood locks in on a measure of misty eyed softness in cranky, cantankerous Gus, and makes him as inexplicably likable as an inexplicably likable old cuss can be. Adams, meanwhile, undergoes the most change on screen and is tasked with almost all the heavy dramatic lifting, the bulk of which she handles with breezy ease. (The bulk. After all, the fiery femme can only do so much with Brown's at-times stale dialogue.) Timberlake is a delight, even if his fast-talking charmer is rather manic. (Again, shortcomings in the script.) And Goodman, reserved but affecting, lends some much needed heart to Braves management, underutilized though he may be.
That said, Lorenz doesn't do much that Eastwood wouldn't do himself. The years spent serving under Hollywood's elder statesman haven't given Lorenz much time to develop his own voice, and Trouble with the Curve often plays more like an exercise in Eastwood homage than the debut of a promising new director. His handling of actors is suspect too. Eastwood, Adams, Timberlake and Goodman fare well, but move past the film's self-assured talent and you'll find sloppy, slapdash work. Lillard, Patrick, Jay Galloway and too many others are as one-note as their delivery, placing Gus and company squarely in the midst of miscast character actors and shaky newcomers. Even so, Lorenz is a sure-hand behind the camera, with a refinement to his craft most first-time directors lack entirely, all of which bodes quite well for future projects, regardless of whether or not they star the likes of Eastwood. In the end, Trouble with the Curve is a competent but forgettable baseball movie that isn't a misfire or a classic. It meanders somewhere in between, with the makings of a great film but the trappings of a cliché-ridden strikeout.
Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray, Video Quality
Trouble with the Curve doesn't have any trouble at all on BD thanks to Warner's level-headed 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. Warm and summery, cinematographer Tom Stern's palette is striking, with richly saturated colors, lovely skintones, deep black levels and finely tuned contrast. Detail is quite good too, even though grain is so subdued -- just subdued, not scrubbed -- that it's nearly imperceptible. Edges are clean and refined (without any sign of pesky ringing), fine textures are resolved naturally and beautifully, and delineation is filmic and satisfying. It almost goes without saying that the encode is pristine and proficient. No artifacting, banding, aliasing or errant anomalies to worry over. There's a bit of crush to be had, sure, but nothing serious. No complaints here.
Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The crack of a bat. The roar of a crowd. The mumbling and grumbling of a cranky old man. I have to say I didn't expect as much from Trouble with the Curve's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track as it delivered. Rear speakers teeming with engaging ambient effects, bolstered by subtle but absorbing immersiveness, and backed by convincing directionality. LFE output that knows when to swing away and when to stand firm. Dynamics that showcase every nuance of the mix, and transparency that lends presence and prowess to cross-channel pans. Dialogue is clear, intelligible and perfectly prioritized as well, without any lost lines or muffled voices, and Marco Beltrami's score fills the soundstage nicely. The short and sweet? The Blu-ray edition of Trouble with the Curve sounds great.
Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Only two short featurettes are included: "Rising Through the Ranks" (HD, 5 minutes), which focuses on director and longtime Eastwood mainstay Robert Lorenz, and "For the Love of the Game" (HD, 6 minutes), which takes a look at the contributions of Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake.
Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Trouble with the Curve isn't as convincing in the scouting vs. statistics debate as Moneyball, romanticized as its affection for Gus' lost art may be. But its human drama makes up for it, even though Lorenz yanks melodrama off the bench more often than he should. Fortunately, Eastwood, Adams, Timberlake and Goodman are a joy on screen, and give the otherwise minor league film some much needed power hits. Warner's outstanding lossless/high definition AV presentation is even better, so long as the almost complete lack of extras doesn't come as much of a surprise. Trouble with the Curve isn't a great baseball movie, sure. But it's a decent one, with a solid lead cast to boot. What have you got to lose?
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Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Trouble with the Curve Blu-ray - October 27, 2012
Warner Bros. has officially announced the Blu-ray release of director Robert Lorenz's Trouble with the Curve, starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman and Matthew Lillard. The baseball drama arrives on Blu-ray December 18th.
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