"Trouble with the Curve" is a by-the-numbers story of an aging professional baseball scout, played with cantankerous splendor by Clint Eastwood, and the daughter he's kept at a distance, played with perfect perkiness by Amy Adams. The movie thrives on the fastball pitches of aging, parenting and baseball but could have used a few change-ups to make it more interesting.
Eastwood is completely comfortable in the role of the grumpy old man. This time instead of chasing teenagers off his yard, he's scouting young talent for the Atlanta Braves. It's getting harder for him to do his job because his eyesight is fading.
Adams also slips into a comfortable role as the strong-but-emotionally-distant daughter who is just trying to find a way to connect with her father during a scouting trip to North Carolina. Her emotional wall -- as high as the Green Monster in Boston -- makes her cautious when a young baseball scout (Justin Timberlake) shows some interest.
Instead of going deep with these characters, all three stars seem OK with just walking through the scenes.
There's a term in baseball called junk, which refers to the variety of pitches a pitcher will throw when he doesn't have good stuff. Randy Brown has written junk into his screenplay. The film is a mix of sports movie, romantic comedy, father-daughter drama and travelogue -- all written just well enough to hold your attention. And his secondary storyline about a hot-shot pitcher plays out in the predictable fashion mentioned in the title.
The final lack of aggression comes from director Robert Lorenz, who's spent his life waiting on deck as an assistant director on movies like "Million Dollar Baby" and "Mystic River." He's so cautious in the way he shoots the movie -- even the baseball sequences that are usually a given when it comes to being visually exciting -- are plodding and unimaginative.
So despite an all-star lineup, "Trouble with the Curve" proves that even the mighty Eastwood can strike out.
"Trouble with the Curve," rated PG-13 for language, smoking. Stars Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman. Directed by Robert Lorenz. Running time: 110 minutes. Grade: C | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.