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The Trouble With the Curve: No Curveballs In Sight

If you are looking for a movie to take your dad to see (or a dad looking for something to see this weekend), this is it. It has sports and Clint Eastwood, is completely inoffensive and well-acted and is a pleasant enough way to spend a few hours. But while that may make for a fine bonding experience, it doesn't really make for a memorable movie.

Clint Eastwood dragged his grumpy old man persona out of the closet and is playing Gus, a curmudgeonly Atlanta Braves baseball scout who has a strained relationship with his daughter, refuses to use technology, has problems peeing and is suffering from vision problems. Amy Adams is Mickey (named after Mantle), a daughter who has been alternately dragged to games and ignored by her father since her mother died when she was six. So she's devoted herself to becoming a partner at a clearly misogynistic law firm.

Once Gus's pal Pete (John Goodman) gets wind of the fact that Braves honchos Phillip (Matthew Lillard) and Vince (Robert Patrick) are thinking about getting rid of Gus when his contract is up, and that Gus might be ill, he appeals to Mickey for help with her father. So she leaves during the middle of a career-determining case to travel to North Carolina to help her father scout some super high school slugger that everyone wants. Everyone, including Red Sox scout Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), whose team just happens to have the first draft pick. Johnny (who had the ridiculous nickname "The Flame") was scouted by Gus in his youth, and he and Mickey have an easy camaraderie. Naturally, since they are the only two young people in the movie (and since her barely existent boyfriend treats their relationship like a business deal), Johnny has the hots for Mickey.

And that's the bulk of the movie: Gus trying to keep his job; Mickey trying to bond with her ailing dad; Johnny trying to woo Mickey; Pete stealing every scene he is in as the devoted best friend who hates the way technology has changed the business. But while the story moves along just fine, there's not really a lot that comes as a surprise. Sure, there's the underdog sports story that is practically obligatory, the hot shot prospect with an attitude and the dark secret that Gus has been carrying for a while, but it all just meanders along in a nice and pleasant way with no real surprises and only a few small chuckles thanks to Timberlake being his normally charming self.

There's not enough of the sport on screen to really deem this a true "baseball" movie (unless you call a few shots of someone pitching and close-ups of hands hitting the bat a lot of baseball) and all of the relationships are pretty expected. These aren't Eastwood, Adams or Timberlake's best roles, though none of them come off terribly. Well, occasionally Timberlake slips into a random Boston accent that comes and goes, but mostly he's just playing that same charismatic young guy he's got down to a science. The real standout performance is by Goodman, who has some of the more touching moments with Eastwood, and just gets to stare in disgust at Lillard's over-the-top antics. As for Patrick, anyone could have done his role considering how little dialogue he had. A cardboard cutout would have sufficed.

Mostly, there really isn't any specific trouble with Trouble with the Curve; it just fails to stand out. We'll have totally forgotten the film by spring training, if not much sooner.

Click here to see our round-up of Clint Eastwood's grumpiest old men

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