Thanks to the recent speech at the Republican National Convention in which the former Dirty Harry berated a chair holding an invisible Barack Obama going into a movie starring Clint Eastwood as a technophobe who has trouble not walking into tables and chairs on a daily basis isn’t exactly a setup for success. But believe it or not it’s actually not that unfortunate context that’s the problem: from the clunky script and pacing to Clint’s ever-present grumble and the film’s predictable plot Trouble with the Curve is a slow pitch right down the middle.
And this is coming from someone who loves baseball movies so much she’s suffered through Kevin Costner’s For the Love of the Game – twice. But Trouble isn’t really a baseball movie. It’s a sappy father-daughter relationship tale with baseball as the hook and the caulk filling in the film's cracks.
Gus (Eastwood) is one of the oldest most respected scouts in the game but he’s getting old his eyes are going and some twerp with a laptop (Matthew Lillard) and his frat boy henchman are determined to shove Gus out of his position at the Atlanta Braves and replace him with a computer (muah-ha-ha). His daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) who he named after Mickey Mantle because that’s how much he loves baseball is trying to make partner at her law firm in a pool of misogynistic bigwigs when she’s called down to North Carolina to help her dad at the behest of his boss and best friend (John Goodman). While she should be working things out with her pops a young scout named Jimmy (Justin Timberlake) shows up flirts with Mickey and steals the storyline for the entire middle section of the film.
While Eastwood’s growling grumbling demeanor are perfect for the role of a stalwart old man who refuses to give up the game he once knew he’s saddled with stale jokes and quips – you may know them as “dad jokes” – that undermine his ability to be the wise man who knows better than these young whippersnappers. Adams does the best she can with a role that asks little more than for her to be smart sassy and outspoken but it simply feels like the role was over-cast. Timberlake’s character is plagued with Gus’ same brand of dad jokes but luckily for us the former boy bander is oozing with enough charm to make any joke no matter how terrible funny enough to make us fall in love with him – for an hour and half anyway.
Script issues aside where the film really starts to lose its way is in its portrayal of Lillard’s young ladder-climbing villain. At one point they even show him sitting in a dark room backlit by a lone desk lamp as he instructs his henchman to keep spying on Gus. All that’s missing is a maniacal laugh and a fluffy cat on his lap for him to stroke with his ruby-ring-decked hand.
It’s this hyperbolic villainy coupled with the treatment of Gus’ mortal enemy (technology) paired with two battling relationship stories (Timberlake and Adams vs. Eastwood and Adams) and the slow plodding pace that keep this film from being what it should be: a perfectly sweet predictable popcorn flick.
Trouble would be a perfectly adequate movie to casually watch on a Sunday afternoon with your dad but then again you could just get Field of Dreams on Blu-ray just as easily.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros]
S2:E3 There is no greater struggle than the struggle within. When a man is faced with evidence that completely shatters his notions of the world, it rocks him to the core. After all, you know yourself best. And when you start to question yourself, well then, what else can you possibly hope to believe in?
Thus Kenny Powers is shaken to his core. A lifelong lover of breasts, his latest girlfriend Vida severely challenges his taste with the simple swing of her hips. With that one little shimmy, the boob-man himself, Kenny Powers, the lover of ta-tas, the sultan of fun bags, the king of sweater puppies, melted and became an ass man.
And holy hell, can you blame him? Did you even see Ana De la Reguera’s ass? I mean, there is art and beauty and trust and then there is that ass. That thing is on a whole other level. It deserves every award ever. I was feeling a bit of a fever while watching this episode and then De la Reguera showed up and started stripping and I suddenly felt like I could run ten miles. I didn’t run ten miles because I would’ve had to stop looking at her bodacious bum, but I know I could have. No wonder he degraded into a cartoonish wolf. What living, breathing, red-blooded man wouldn’t? Hell, what open-minded woman wouldn’t?
Anyway, besides the ass from the heavens, some other stuff happened in this episode. Kenny had to set some personal boundary lines with Stevie when he found Stevie wearing his dirty thong. It's always best to have a roommate contract signed before things get awkward with your new roommate/stalker.
Then Kenny got pissed at his new team. To him, he single-handedly saved the entire organization from losing and being sent into the depths of hell. Is it too much to ask to be treated like a savior? And when they resoundingly said "no," he figured he has to convert them on his own.
He started a local promotion, in a situation very similar to the first season, but instead of a high end car dealership it is a new grocery store. And ever the cultural sensitive, Kenny showed up in traditional garb: a mariachi suit. Which really went over well for all his fans. Which happened to just be Vida. But seriously, if she were my only fan, I wouldn’t be complaining. They set up a date.
Stevie got a visit from Aaron, which felt a lot like it does when two of your ex-girlfriends meet and they don’t like each other (but the opposite is just as awkward. When they start to REALLY like each other, trust me). But prior to that we were treated to Stevie fixing the car seductively and wooing the rather plump neighbor. Get’em Stevie!
Kenny took Vida to a party on the owner’s yacht. She danced it up and the owner tried to talk to Kenny about the power of the booty and Kenny started to realize that he might just be over April, once and for all. And when the next scene happened and we got to see that bountiful bottom, April who?
The morning after found Kenny meeting Vida’s son which she had kept quiet about up until that point. At first Kenny wasn’t going to put up with that... who wants a used uterus? But the kid kind of grew on him.
Then we finally got Kenny back on the mound. Stevie had been pimping the game for Kenny, but the audience was not feeling it. Kenny was throwing strike after strike but they still cheered the deity as if he were a mere mortal. The cheerleaders weren’t even shaking their asses! So Kenny did what Kenny does best, which is stir shit up. And if the shit has to be stirred by throwing a ball into the opposing team’s dugout and causing a on field riot, then so be it. The crowd loved it at least.
Afterwards, Kenny and Stevie met up for the weekly story arch that runs through the entire season. Kenny was looking for someone and Aaron said he found him. But he played some willy tricks and runs off the ransom. All forty dollars of it. Kenny refused to talk about, but something tells me this will come up again in the remaining four episodes.
This really made Kenny think. And he’s finally ready for things to get serious with Vida and her son when they’re on a date at a carnival. So whether they like it or not, they’re getting the full Kenny Powers, motherfuckers! Which Kenny is now, apparently. But Vida seemed unenthusiastic about the change. Perhaps she was just fine with Kenny being emotionally unattached. Perhaps this too will come up again in later episodes. Perhaps their different reactions, while riding on the roller coasters, is some metaphor for how they handle life. Perhaps.
Or it could all just be an excuse to post this picture. Let’s be real here, this was a good episode, but this screen grab puts it on course to be one of the greatest episodes of television of all time. Enjoy.
Well if the title doesn’t say it all…Picking up where Alien vs. Predator left off those pesky aliens cause the Predator ship to crash on Earth setting them free near a Colorado town. A lone Predator (Ian Whyte encoring from AvP) comes to Earth to clean up the mess and what the hell maybe pick up a few human trophies too. Needless to say the town’s human residents are completely unprepared for this sort of inter-galactic free-for-all on their streets. This is after all the sort of town where everybody knows everybody but no one seems to notice when a spaceship crashes in the woods outside of town or when the self-same spaceship blows up the next day. In short you could say that they get what’s coming to them--and they sure do. Pretty dreadful all around. Then again Shane Salerno’s script is pointless to begin with. Steven Pasquale (TV’s Rescue Me) plays the ex-con hero Dallas (a nod to the original Alien). Reiko Aylesworth (TV’s 24) plays a veteran of the Gulf War who returns stateside just in time to engage in another one--a pretty pale homage to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley character. John Ortiz plays the local sheriff one of the dullest (and dumbest) screen lawmen in recent memory. Veteran Robert Joy drops in briefly as a weasely U.S. Army colonel who would just as soon nuke the town as try to save it. Every time this film focuses on the (one-dimensional) human characters it stops cold. Unfortunately this happens a lot. There’s no reason to root for them because you simply don’t care. True to form most of them are sliced diced chopped lasered exploded from within and otherwise treated in a shabby fashion. They are simply fodder. Just for the record this is the sixth Alien film and the fourth Predator film and it holds the dubious distinction of being the worst of any of them. The special effects are just dandy but not much else is. This also marks the inauspicious feature directorial debut of noted visual effects artists Colin and Greg Strause (billed as “The Brothers Strause”). They clearly have an affinity for this sort of thing--and for the Alien and Predator franchises--but are just as clearly content to simply let the special effects run away with the story. The first Alien vs. Predator movie was no great shakes but it was better than it had any right to be. This one is not. Responding to the fans who wanted this film to be R-rated the Brothers Strause have delivered on that--and absolutely nothing more. It’s a pointless exercise.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.