Set mostly in the minor league baseball world of the South – honky tonks, pool halls, cozy ballparks, cheap motels and beautiful scenery along the two-lane highways, the film follows the story of baseball scout Gus Lobel (Eastwood) who up until now has been able to hide the fact that his eyes are failing him, but there’s too much riding on this latest scouting trip.
The Atlanta Braves are not the only team with their sights set on the hottest amateur bat in stocky power-hitter Bo Gentry of the Swannanoa High School Grizzlies, who is all but guaranteed to go first in the upcoming draft.
Not unlike the ornery codger he played in Gran Torino, Eastwood is a salty old scout who ignores fancy computer programs and detailed statistical charts in favor of his own time-tested instincts to find the next big league star and has a fine track record in producing exceptional results.
However, he’s trying to hide that growing vision problem among other old age physical ailments, so at the request of longtime family friend and Eastwood’s boss, Pete Klein (John Goodman), the scout’s daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a career-driven lawyer with lifelong resentments still unresolved risks her own job and reluctantly joins him on his latest trip.
Forced to spend time together for the first time in years, where practically every exchange becomes an argument, as the days pass at North Carolina ballparks, both father and daughter make new discoveries which lay out long-held truths about their past and present that potentially play into their future.
“‘Trouble with the Curve’ is a story about how we deal with what life throws at us,” describes director/producer Robert Lorenz. “It has characters in whom we can all see a bit of ourselves, reaching those moments in life when we are faced with re-evaluating priorities: the importance we put on our careers, our friendships and our family.”
At the center of the story are a father and daughter whose lives have taken them in opposite directions. Even when they’re together, they are worlds apart. But now, circumstances are forcing them to face their differences on common ground.
“In any family, even when things get tough, there are always ties that connect you,” says the film’s star and producer Clint Eastwood. “You just have to find a starting point to begin to close the gap.”
In capturing the verisimilitude of the profession, Eastwood prepped for the role, by spending time with real-life scouts to get a handle on the ins and outs of the job, including the New York Mets’ Jim Bryant, Jim Rough of the Detroit Tigers, Jack Powell from the Minnesota Twins, and the Braves’ own Brian Bridges and Eric Ruben. Ruben also served as one of the film’s assistant baseball coaches.
“These guys have a tremendous responsibility,” Eastwood continues, “because they’re often signing players who are 17, 18 years old, to major league contracts with a lot of money dropped in their lap. They have to really vet them and the families, find out what the parents are like, talk to neighbors, and make sure that they’ll not only play ball, but also be able to handle the lifestyle. Scouts have to be part psychologist as well as have an eye for the game, so they can be sure they’re not betting on the wrong horse.”