LoquaciousMuse December 18, 2012
This week, we pit two films against each other that have to do with scouting for America’s favorite pastime. One is the Oscar-nominated Sorkin/Bennett joint “Moneyball,” and the other is perhaps the most ill-timed film release in the history of time, “Trouble with the Curve,” starring Clint Eastwood.
So which one comes out on top? Something tells us you already know the answer.
See This: “Moneyball”
Last year, the non-fiction Michael Lewis book “Moneyball” was adapted by scribes Steve Zallian and Aaron Sorkin into a biographical sports drama, directed by “Caopte” helmer Bennett Miller. The film stars Brad Pitt as the Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane, who adopts a new math-based way of scouting players — sabermetrics — thanks to his new GM, played by Jonah Hill. The film was widely acclaimed, boasting a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, ending up on over 20 major top ten lists, and nabbed six Oscar nominations, including one for supporting actor Hill, helping to solidify the next phase of his career, jumping from comedy staple to legitimate dramatic performer. The film was also honored with nominations from the Golden Globes, SAGs and BAFTAs, thanks to its soulful, sharp, and intimate yet enthralling look at a man beating the odds. Pitt and Hill are incredibly likable and effective and the human drama intrigues without ever stepping over the line into schmaltzy or sentimental. Easily one of the top sports films of the past decade, “Moneyball” may even end up one day named in the pantheon of its genre’s best.
Not That: “Trouble With The Curve”
So if you find yourself with a craving for baseball talk, go with the widely beloved one, not this multi-tiered failure. This film starring Clint Eastwood (in his first non-self-directed acting role since 1993) had the misfortune of opening a mere few weeks after the aging actor/director infamously cursed at an empty chair, among other bizarre happenings, at the Republican National Convention. The film follows Eastwood’s Gus Lobel, a scout working for the Atlanta Braves whose judgement in selecting players, the office is beginning to doubt, due to his failing vision. He enlists the help of his baseball-loving high-powered attorney daughter, played by Amy Adams, on what might be his last scouting trip. Although the film wasn’t universally trashed — some critics appreciating Amy Adams’ charm and chemistry with both Eastwood and love interest Justin Timberlake — it was widely considered predictable, safe, corny and unremarkable on all fronts, with many critics deriding Eastwood’s performance as the very definition of phoning it in. It was a shame for director Robert Lorenz, a longtime Eastwood collaborator and partner, who was clearly trying to break out as more than his usual roles as producer or AD.
Maybe next time, try a screenplay by someone who has written something before? Or at least one that doesn’t suck? In any event, don’t waste your time with this middling sports drama when you have options like “Moneyball” at your fingertips.
Moneyball, Trouble with the Curve