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]
Pretty people just don’t understand—you’re not safe anywhere and all the sadists are after YOU! As the two geniuses in The Hitcher Grace (Sophia Bush) and her boyfriend Jim (Zachary Knighton) learn real quickly a cross-country trek to New Mexico in a beat-up car is especially risky. During their first night out on the open road it’s raining cats and dogs when they almost run over a man (Sean Bean) who’s standing aimlessly in the middle of the street his car apparently broken down. The young couple decides against lending him a helping hand with it pouring down rain and all. Bad move. When they stop for gas later Jim and Grace cross paths with the man who goes by the name of John Ryder. He asks the couple if he might hitch a short ride with them to a local motel. This time they oblige. Bad move. One aspect the studio must’ve loved about The Hitcher: Being shot primarily in a car the cast cannot feasibly be more than three deep—four tops. That also means that said cast must wear the tension well if the camera is to be on them throughout. Bush (TV’s One Tree Hill) the movie’s biggest asset as far as its target audience is concerned shrieks well and most importantly is smokin'. And when it comes time to fight back she doesn’t look so bad doing it even if there’s scant giggling in the theater at the now clichéd image of a weapon-wielding hot chick. As the hugely sadistic villain Bean (GoldenEye the LOTR movies et al) is more than adequately creepy. There’s something to be said with most of The Hitcher’s viewers’ inability to recognize him because an A-list movie star just wouldn’t work in this role. Obscurity aside Bean his face lurking around every corner will simply creep the crap out of the young audience. As for Knighton he seems and looks like the garden-variety up-and-comer and try as I might there’s nothing wrong with his biggest role to date—except a scene of um tug-of-war that is tough to watch or look away from. Veteran actor Neal McDonough also pops in with a brief role as a sheriff caught in the proverbial crosshairs. These days it’s tough to come up with anything new in a horror film—so directors just don’t bother. Save for neo-horror maestro Eli Roth there’s no originality to be seen especially when seemingly 99 percent of horror movies are remakes and when they’re not remakes they’re Primeval or Turistas. The Hitcher is much better than those two but director Dave Meyers truly eliminates most of the psychological aspect of the original 1986 Hitcher in exchange for a polished contemporary feel. Of course Meyers is one the most renowned music video directors of the past several years so it's no surprise when he mistakes volume for thrills; in fact the decibels will be the chief reason for almost all of the audience’s screaming. Not that there aren’t scary moments however. The writers Jake Wade Wall (When a Stranger Calls) and Eric Bernt (Romeo Must Die) actually get the film off to a brisk smooth start but they ultimately turn John Ryder into more of a Terminator-like character and ask for too many leaps of faith and suspensions of disbelief—again not that their intended audience won’t indulge them. At least the studio had the guts to retain the intended 'R' rating!
Top Story: Crowe Tying the Knot on 39th Birthday
Australian actor Russell Crowe plans to marry longtime girlfriend Danielle Spencer on his 39th birthday April 7 in Australia, The Associated Press reports. The actor's publicist, Wendy Day, said Sunday that the Crowe and Spencer would tie the knot at the family chapel on his property in New South Wales. "It's definitely April 7 on his property at Nana Glen," Day said. "It's not a Hollywood, star-studded affair...it's a family and friends affair for about 80 guests." The couple met during the filming of the 1990 film The Crossing. They had an on-again-off-again relationship until Crowe publicly declared his love for her and proposed last November.
"COPS" Producer Feared Dead
Paul Stojanovich, a field producer for the long running show COPS and the creator of the reality TV series World's Wildest Police Videos, fell 300 feet from a cliff into the Pacific Ocean and is feared dead, AP reports. Stojanovich, 47, and his fiancée Kim Srowel were hiking Saturday on a bluff at Treasure Cove in Oregon when he slipped while stopping to pose for a picture. Officers searched for three hours but found no sign of Stojanovich, Sgt. Mike Zimmerman of the Tillamook County Sheriff's Office told the AP Sunday.
Scorsese Deplores Oscar Campaigning
Director Martin Scorsese told Time magazine that Hollywood has grown increasingly aggressive in campaigning for Academy Awards. "If one of the actors from your film is not talking on that screen in the middle of the night, there will be five other actors from five different films talking," Scorsese said, adding that he feels obligated to be interviewed about his Gangs of New York. "The reality is if I don't do PR, I'm hurting the picture. And as many things as I did, that's as many things as I turned down." The film was nominated for was nominated for 10 awards, including Best Director and Best Picture.
Bonnie Hunt, Brad Garrett to Sub for Ailing Letterman
The Late Show With David Letterman has announced a slate of guest hosts for the week of March 17 as Letterman continues to recuperate from shingles. According to Variety, Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett will take the reins on Monday night, followed by comedian Tom Dreesen on Tuesday and Bonnie Hunt from Life with Bonnie on Wednesday. The show will be in repeats the final two nights of the week due to previously scheduled CBS coverage of college basketball.
Gandolfini and HBO May Resume Negotiations
The Sopranos star James Gandolfini and HBO are considering a deal to drop their dueling lawsuits and proceed with contract negotiations, the AP reports. Network executives involved in the negotiations told The New York Times that Gandolfini, who had previously sought a $20 million annual salary, has now lowered his request to about $16 million a year.
Minnelli and Gest Postpone Anniversary Party
Looks like the looming war in Iraq may put a damper on Liza Minnelli and David Gest's first anniversary party. "We held off sending our invitations out because we want to have our party when the world is at peace and people can come and enjoy themselves," Minnelli said. The party was set for April 15 at New York's Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square. Spokesman Warren Cowan told Reuters, "With the threat of war imminent and considering more than 1,200 guests would be traveling from many different parts of the world, Liza Minnelli and David Gest have decided to postpone their anniversary party."
Country Music Fans Irate Over Dixie Chicks' Comment
Radio stations nationwide are boycotting the Dixie Chicks because singer Natalie Maines, a native of Lubbock, Texas, told a London audience last Monday: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Maines apologized Friday, saying, "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President (George W.) Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect." But the apology seems to have come too late for some irate protesters. On Saturday in Bossier City, Louisiana, protesters used a 33,000-pound tractor to destroy Dixie Chicks CDs and other items, while Two Dallas stations took Home off their playlists and one station in Kansas City held a Dixie "chicken toss" party to trash the group's CDs.
Superman's "Curse" Plagues Casting
Josh Hartnett didn't want it, and neither, it turns out, does Paul Walker. Walker is the latest star to drop out of the running for the title role in Warner Bros. new Superman movie for director Brett Ratner, Variety reports. Perhaps the "Curse of Superman" is to blame for why the pic is having trouble casting the Man of Steel. The so-called "curse" is based on the misfortune many stars connected to Superman TV series and movies have encountered, such as Christopher Reeve's paralysis, Margot Kidder's nervous breakdown, Richard Pryor's multiple sclerosis and George Reeves' death. Reeves, who played Superman in the 1950s, was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in 1959.