TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012, Robert Lorenz): 2/10
The reason I didn’t walk out on this movie is that I was on an airplane. But believe me, even at 35,000 feet, it was tempting.
There’s no way Eastwood read this script before signing on to produce and star, right? No way. Granted, I haven’t seen THE VOW or THAT’S MY BOY or anything, but this has to be one of the worst screenplays produced by Hollywood in a year or two. It has to. It’s rare you actually see dialogue that literally spells out all of the subtext and goes so far as to summarize the plot as it’s going along. Paraphrasing:
“Gus is getting old and his job is at stake, so you need to go on this trip to take care of him.”
“But I’m a very important attorney and I have a presentation in three days! I don’t have time for a vacation!”
“It’s not a vacation, it’s your father.”
“Hey team, this is a big game we’re about to play as soon as we get off this bus. There is a lot at stake so pay attention.”
“Honey, you’re my daughter and it’s been difficult for me to raise you ever since your mother died when you were young. Remember that tragedy from our past that we still have unresolved issues about?”
“Dad, all I ever wanted was for you to love me and respect me, so my life is in shambles now because I only did what I thought you wanted me to do! My boyfriend who I never loved has left me and I’m getting passed over for that big promotion at the firm. I need to realize that what I really love is baseball! And you!”
“We can’t talk about this right now, this isn’t the time and place!”
“There never is a right time! When IS the time and the place?”
“Don’t storm out of here like that stubborn tempestuous girl that you are, that reminds me so much of your mother!”
Seriously. This is what every single goddam conversation is like. It’s insulting. It’s painful. And it’s extremely sad to see one of cinema’s most enduring, talented, and consistently good screen icons get reduced to a caricature in a shitty melodrama that would have been rejected from a community college creative writing class. Director Robert Lorenz, Eastwood’s longtime assistant, barely cobbles together enough footage to cut together, but he has no sense of artistry, framing, or tone. It’s a series of medium shots so stilted and awkward that it makes Ang Lee’s domestic dramas look like Scorsese. And poor Justin Timberlake, often so charming in romcoms like FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS and smartly-directed pizazz like THE SOCIAL NETWORK, but when stranded with a repulsively bad script he can’t bring anything to the table. The only actor with her head above water here is Amy Adams, veteran of subpar bullshit like LEAP YEAR and THE WEDDING DATE (so she knows how to be a total pro when the material is beneath her). I just wish she didn’t keep adding stains to her resume, because she’s so good in THE MASTER, THE FIGHTER, DOUBT, and other non-embarrassing movies.
But the real shame here is Eastwood, who has directed some of the greatest films of the past 25 years, acted in classics dating back 50 years, and always shown a keen presence. Finally, in his first film post-Empty Chair, you can see his judgment failing. Not in his character (who’s designed to do that; and Gus’s aging body is clearly what drew Eastwood to the role) but in his decision to let this thing see the light of day. When Eastwood sits in a cemetery reciting the entire lyrics to “You are my sunshine,” it’s far more humiliating than anything he could have ever done at the RNC.