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Trouble with the Curve: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack Review

Trouble with the Curve (2012) movie poster Trouble with the Curve

Theatrical Release: September 21, 2012 / Running Time: 111 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Robert Lorenz / Writers: Randy Brown

Cast: Clint Eastwood (Gus Lobel), Amy Adams (Mickey Lobel), Justin Timberlake (Johnny Flanagan), Robert Patrick (Vince), Matthew Lillard (Phillip Sanderson), John Goodman (Pete Klein), Bob Gunton (Watson), George Wyner (Rosenbloom), Jack Gilpin (Schwartz), Ed Lauter (Max), Chelcie Ross (Smitty), Ray Anthony Thomas (Lucious), Joe Massingill (Bo Gentry), Peter Hermann (Greg), Jay Galloway (Rigoberto Sanchez), Scott Eastwood (Billy Clark), Seth Meriwether (Wilson), Bart Hansard (Bo's Father)

Trouble with the Curve now available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download!
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Clint Eastwood's Oscar wins for Unforgiven (1992) may have initially seemed like one-time Hollywood recognition for movie star longevity and genuine improvement behind the camera. Then, the successive releases of the highly acclaimed Mystic River (2003) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), the latter another multiple Oscar winner, declared Eastwood one of the industry's elite filmmakers,
someone whose every movie would open at the end of the year and compete for high honors. Eastwood held that status through his nominated 2006 pair of perspectival World War II films. Another couple of strong year-end releases followed in 2008, including the box office hit Gran Torino.

Since then, Eastwood has played the part of the prestige director, tackling serious historical topics in films like Invictus and J. Edgar. But, despite ample star power, the public hasn't gone for such movies. Neither has the Academy, who has quickly yet gradually phased Eastwood out of serious award competition. One thing that Eastwood's recent box office flops have lacked, though, is Eastwood himself. It stood to reason that even if his presence behind the camera couldn't fill movie theaters, his presence in front of it could; both Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino grossed over $100 million domestically and $200 M worldwide. Not too shabby at all for a lead actor in his seventies.

Trouble with the Curve tested that theory. Excluding his Casper cameo, this drama marked Eastwood's first performance for a director other than himself since 1993's In the Line of Fire. The 82-year-old actor wasn't going it completely alone, though the poster let his top billing tower over the names of co-stars Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake. Opening in mid-September, the prime season for adult dramas, against little competition, Trouble underperformed, ultimately landing in the same $30 million range as Eastwood's three prior directorial flops.

In "Trouble with the Curve", Mickey Lobel (Amy Adams) joins her aging father (Clint Eastwood) in North Carolina to do some baseball scouting together.

The directing debut of Eastwood's longtime AD Robert Lorenz and writing debut of someone named Randy Brown, Trouble with the Curve centers on Gus Lobel (Eastwood), a widowed, aging scout for the Atlanta Braves. Gus' eyes are failing him, and though he has bruises from the furniture in his home to show for it, he keeps that critical fact secret from his colleagues and his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), whose visits are a cold, strained affair. Gus' doctor thinks it might be glaucoma and breaks doctor-patient confidentiality to tell Mickey so much.

With Major League Baseball's draft just a week away and the Braves holding the #2 pick, Gus is sent down to North Carolina to get a look at their potential selection, cocky high school slugger Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill). Aware that the organization is considering putting Gus out to pasture, longtime colleague and friend Pete (John Goodman) asks Mickey to accompany her father on this trip. For single workaholic lawyer Mickey, that means bringing with her the abundant paperwork from the one big case she needs to win to make partner, her goal for the past seven years.

The growling, stubborn Gus resists the company at first, but comes to rely on Mickey being his eyes as they remember their old days on the road and size up the unlikable prospect. Crossing paths with the Lobels is Gus' former recruit Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), a pitcher whose career-ending rotator cuff injury still haunts him as he tries to find a suitable back-up career.

Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) does not take kindly to his daughter opening old wounds over a diner lunch. Justin Timberlake plays Johnny "The Flame" Flanagan, a pitcher turned easygoing scout with sportscaster aspirations.

Trouble with the Curve lacks the bite of Eastwood's own directing efforts. Lorenz may have worked by his side since the mid-1990s, but that doesn't make him a bold and confident director out of the gate.
Some hokey moments, sentimentality, and a cheesy forced romance between Mickey and Johnny taint the proceedings, but it isn't until a full cornball final act that you realize the film is falling short of its goals and potential.

Even hindered by a weird dark backstory, the father-daughter relationship is the film's most compelling aspect. Eastwood and Adams have nice chemistry together. He is essentially reprising Walt Kowalski under a new name. He's no racist and his wife has been dead nearly thirty years, but Gus is old-fashioned, computer illiterate, and just plain very old. Eastwood's gravelly voice, weathered face, and rich history do much of the work for him, though he deserves credit for not phoning in the performance as he could. There isn't an actress out there who would be better in Adams' role, which she makes the most of despite its clichιs and contrivances. Timberlake, whose acting skills I've not previously doubted, proves to be the weak link; both the character and performance feel like they belong in a different movie and the sparkless romance is one of the film's biggest weaknesses.

Eastwood's interest in Brown's script may be the product of his aversion to supporting roles and the lack of meaty octogenarian roles. That he would choose to star in and produce the film, but hand the director's reins over to Lorenz suggests he liked but did not love the project, a sentiment that is easy to understand. Eastwood direction probably could have improved Trouble, but many of the problems lie in the script, including that unfortunate, far-fetched happy ending. That Eastwood came out of acting retirement makes this both more notable and more underwhelming than it otherwise would have been. While it's tough to imagine a more satisfying swan song than Gran Torino for the certified legend, one hopes that this isn't his last try in front of the camera. If it is, we'll at least still be able to enjoy his expertise behind the camera, although his long-gestating next project, a remake of the classic musical A Star Is Born, isn't so promising, even with Beyoncι no longer attached.

With only two IMDb-worthy awards to its name (both the byproducts of formidable years for Adams and Goodman), Trouble with the Curve has hit home video in time for Christmas in Warner's standard options of DVD, movie-only Blu-ray, and two-disc Blu-ray + DVD combo pack, all fitted with UltraViolet and the lattermost reviewed here.

Watch clips from Trouble with the Curve:

Trouble with the Curve: Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese) DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP), movie-only Blu-ray ($29.98 SRP),
and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Warner treats Trouble to a fine Blu-ray presentation. Lorenz doesn't attempt to reproduce the stylized flair that Eastwood has given his most recent directorial efforts, but the 2.40:1 picture is sharp, vibrant, and immaculate and the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is constantly crisp and supplies a nice amount of baseball atmosphere.

Robert Lorenz directs in an Atlanta Braves hat, while a knowing Clint Eastwood looks on in "Rising Through the Ranks." Amy Adams discusses working with Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in the curiously-titled "For the Love of the Game."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The studio with the most output has been showing some of the least interest in bonus features these days. Warner gives Trouble just two making-of shorts, both presented in high definition and one exclusive to the Blu-ray.

"Rising Through the Ranks" (4:37) considers Rob Lorenz's directing debut as an extension of his past collaborations with Eastwood.
"For the Love of the Game" (6:02), also included on the DVD, focuses on the actors, with Eastwood, Adams, and Timberlake discussing working with one another.

The Blu-ray opens with an UltraViolet promo and a trailer for the upcoming Jackie Robinson drama 42. The DVD opens with the UltraViolet ad, an anti-tobacco spot, and trailers for The Great Gatsby, 42, and the digital series "H+".

Both discs used scored poster art for their menu, with the DVD using embarrassingly barren turquoise backdrops for its two submenus. The BD does not resume playback or support bookmarks. The plainly labeled discs take opposite sides of an eco-friendly Blu-ray case, which holds an insert with directions and your unique code for the UltraViolet steam and is topped by a standard, repetitive cardboard slipcover.

The father scowls, the daughter smiles. Together, Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams are... the baseball family!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Clint Eastwood's return to acting should be cause for excitement, especially across from the reliably good Amy Adams, but Trouble with the Curve isn't the home run it should be. Between a forced romance, tired plot points, and a ludicrous, unsatisfying end, this drama winds up being an average movie whose cast's talent is cancelled out by its writer and director's inexperience.

Warner's Blu-ray provides a terrific feature presentation but only two light, disposable extras. This is strictly one to rent.

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Blu-ray + DVD / DVD / Movie-only Blu-ray / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New: Premium Rush • Sparkle • Thunderstruck • 10 Years • Catch Me If You Can
Clint Eastwood: For a Few Dollars More | Produced by Clint Eastwood: Invictus • Hereafter • J. Edgar
Amy Adams: The Fighter • Doubt • Julie & Julia • The Muppets • Enchanted • Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Justin Timberlake: In Time • Bad Teacher • The Love Guru • Yogi Bear • Mickey Mouse Club: The Best of Britney, Justin & Christina
John Goodman: The Big Lebowski • Arachnophobia | Matthew Lillard: The Descendants
Baseball: Moneyball • A League of Their Own • The Rookie • Mr. 3000 • Angels in the Outfield
The Color of Money • Everybody's Fine • The Straight Story • Secretariat • Traffic

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Reviewed December 20, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Warner Bros. Pictures, Malpaso Productions, and Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.