Trouble with the Curve (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Trouble with the Curve (2012)

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1Andrew INDIFFERENCE BannerAside from Ebert's Glossary of Movie Terms is there another source for analyzing cliche's not only in their native environment but their origins?  I love Ebert and his contributor's terminology but it's not getting into the history of many boring scenes that become the template for many films.  The one I'm most concerned about today is the hesitant strip 'n swim.

If that's not already an Ebert term then, consarn it, I hope that I have better luck gaining  recognition then his New Yorker cartoon caption submissions.

Enough obscure movie reviewer factoids for a moment and let's look at the biggest problem concerning Trouble with the Curve and it's lakeside scene.  We've seen it many times before, there's a hesitant or emotionally restrained partner and the more rambunctious one who throws caution to the wind, strips, and heads straight into the drink.  It's a staple in horror films, comedies, drama - you name the genre and there's at least one movie where this happens.  I don't think I've ever seen the scene used well and TwtC does nothing with it, continuing with a romantic connection long established and waiting for the eventual kiss we all know is going to happen.  So it does, and then the next mechanical plot-device rolls in, and the gears of the assembly line grow more obvious.

Eastwood is a great actor but strains at sentimentality. He doesn't sound forced singing "You are my Sunshine", just awkward.

Eastwood is a great actor but strains at sentimentality. He doesn't sound forced singing "You are my Sunshine", just awkward.

TwtC isn't bad, just inessential.  One thing that me and Ryan have both remarked on repeatedly over the last few weeks is how the middle-budget film made for adult's had a nice resurgence this year.  I'd like to add the caveat that each of the films we really enjoyed, which even includes the metaphor wolves of The Grey, includes some kind of element of realism.  Part of the reason I liked Hope Springs so much is that it presented a potentially rote situation and then infused it with warmth by treating the relationship and age of its characters seriously.

Nothing like this happens in TwtC.  Sure, the cast is game, but is far better than the material.  The strip 'n swim cliche is joined by the workaholic and emotionally distant family, the rugged outsider, the last minute turnaround, the awkardly inserted catchphrase title (which is already pretty unweildly,) and a host of others.  The better mid-budget adult films this year haven't exactly been bustling with creativity but found a way to work around the limitations of their parts.  TwtC is all assembly with no emotion in the execution and is disappointing because of it.

To be honest, I was hoping for a bit of meta-commentary on some of Clint Eastwood's actions this year when the opening scenes had him yelling at inanimate objects.  But it just sets him up as another cantankerous loner, a baseball scout losing his sight and relying equally on instinct and play observation as much as anything else.  His lawyer daughter (Amy Adams) comes to visit and is a workaholic who seems unavailable emotionally.  Will there be a confrontation?  Is Justin Timberlake handsome?

JT, superb charmer, but I'd like to see more from him.

JT, superb charmer, but I'd like to see more from him.

That last question is unfair if you don't find Timberlake attractive, but the point is that none of the many emotional setups payoff to anything more than their starting position.  Timberlake plays a former hotshot pitcher whose rugged charm just so happens to intice the uptight lawyer.  Surprised?  Only if it's your first movie.

Even if so, it's not a bad choice.  The film ambles by on the strength of it's leads more than the direction, whose chief accomplishment is keeping everyone in frame and making sure the camera operator doesn't hit anything,  or screenplay of previously noted minimal merit.  But for those of you who have seen more than a few films even the performances may seem a bit tired.

Timberlake has proven that he has the chops to be a great actor but seems stuck in charming.  He's played dangerous charming, put-upon charming, and now quirky charming.  But as much as I'd like to see some variation from him I'd like to never again see Eastwood sing "You are my Sunshine" even more.  The stabs at sentimentality in his career have never worked well when he's in front of the camera even if those moments showcase the weakness of the script more than his dearth of emotional depth.  Regarding Amy Adams, I know she can be great, but riffing off of the same uptight business type and bringing up memories of one of the first, and worst, films I reviewed for our site was a questionable call.

So the film exists.  If you can tolerate baseball and like two of the three leads then you're set for a forgettable evening.

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TailTrouble with the Curve (2012)

Directed by Robert Lorenz.
Screenplay written by Randy Brown.
Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake.

Posted by Andrew

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