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Mickey (Amy Adams) and Gus (Clint Eastwood) keep a close eye on the action. The title of the film refers to how some otherwise great hitters in baseball can struggle with a curve ball.

Slow and predictable are good words to describe this relationship-drama. That said it’s also a very well made film with impressive acting and a focus on human relationships. It just falls down because there is a general lack of drama or any events that provoke a strong emotion.

Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) is a retired baseball player now working as a baseball scout. His eyesight is failing him and his position is under threat from a young whizzkid (Matthew Lillard) who uses a computer based scouting system. Concerned about this, his boss Pete (John Goodman) persuades Gus’s daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to join him on his next scouting trip. They currently have a tempestuous relationship but as well as helping Gus (not that he wants her help but being his daughter she too is an expert on baseball) it’s a chance for them to get closer.

For Adams it’s also an opportunity to find a potential love interest in another scout, Johnny (Justin Timberlake). Sadly here in likeable but ineffectual mode. Credit to Timberlake though because realising it’s not possible to to shoehorn a song in (Southland Tales, Bad Teacher etc), he does get some dancing in. “Are you sure you haven’t done this before?” asks Adams. “Never” says Timberlake looking suspiciously competent.

5/10 The good is balanced out by bad for an average mark.

You’d expect a film where Meg Ryan licks excrement to be slightly less dull

This is based on the true story of Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan) fighting for success and equal recognition in the male-dominated world of boxing promotion. By accident Jackie discovers young prospect Luther Shaw (Omar Epps) and as well as his promoter she becomes his emotional support, as she guides him to success.

It would be a interesting story if told well but I found it hard to get involved at any deep level. It lacks spark everywhere – the relationship between the characters, the script, the story, and the production values. Even worse for a boxing film, the fights lack drama and excitement. In style they are more realistic than Rocky but yet still fail to be at all like real boxing. Of course, they don’t have to be realistic to be good (as Rocky proves) but at least make them exciting in some way!

I actually assumed this was a TV film when i watched it partly because its very bland but also because TV films do quite often feature a woman fighting for something or other in a male-dominated world.

The sort of film, if it was on late – you’d watch half of, before heading up to bed.  4/10

Brad Pitt looks massively like Robert Redford in this film

Moneyball tells the true story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) who despite a tiny budget uses a system of statistics devised by himself and Yale graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to take a no-hoper baseball team to the top of league and almost to a World Series. There is a long standing cliche associated with sports films, where a team of no-hopers gets a new coach and then goes on to win the title. This seems to be a cliche the film is actively trying to avoid since it really focuses in on the bad times and arguments but then as soon as things go well, events are skipped or glossed over. There is no real payoff, no ‘I told you so’ moments to all the people who doubted Beane, and during big wins you just get lots shots of Brad Pitt sitting by himself in the dressing room. It doesn’t make this a worse film, but given this is largely a success story, it does seem a little strange at times.

It’s actually very well made, has well defined characters and it’s interesting too, although I would say it’s not *that* interesting. Beyond the baseball and statistics there is just something lacking to make it a great film. It’s possibly extra emotional depth in the human relationships, not helped because Beane by his nature is quite an uncommunicative character. Beane’s relationship with Brand is actually very well realised but then there are a number of scenes with Beane and his daughter which seem to have been included especially just to add a little emotion depth. These while genuinely touching at times, do also feel a litte tacked on, especially since his daughter (beyond a phonecall and song at the end) is then largely absent for the final third of the film. It’s a good film though and definitely worth watching. 7/10