While most would assume that the only thing stolen in Trouble With The Curve was your heart, when a drunk Clint Eastwood growls “You Are My Sunshine” at his wife’s grave, a new lawsuit alleges that the entire film was plagiarized from another author’s screenplay—doing so over the course of a 119-page document outlining the vast “conspiracy” behind it. And though that may seem excessive, that novella-length filing is barely enough to contain all of the conspiracy’s many plot threads, to say nothing of its passages of fiery, Hollywood-shaming rhetoric, personal insults, and condemnations of our morally bankrupt society. (Also, it’s regarding Trouble With The Curve—easily the greatest movie ever made in which Clint Eastwood is kind of crusty and mean and also there’s baseball.)
In the most condensed version of the complaint, former college baseball player Ryan Brooks says he hired Touchback screenwriter Don Handfield in 2005 to develop Omaha, a film that Brooks hoped would be “the first baseball movie focusing on a father-daughter relationship.” But Brooks and Handfield had a falling out over a “substandard job” the latter did on a polish—and it was there the suit claims, that “the seeds of the conspiracy… were sown,” with Handfield soon colluding with various other “co-conspirators” to camouflage Omaha, changing the setting from college baseball to the major leagues and borrowing “a concept from Moneyball,” then renaming it Trouble With The Curve and masking its origins by crediting it to Randy Brown (as every conspiracy needs a patsy).
But in the not-at-all-condensed, far more entertaining version, there are lines like this: “The story Randy Brown tells is like a lie told by a four year old who has eaten a box of Oreo cookies and stands before a parent denying he had eaten the cookies while having Oreo crumbs all over his face.” (Get it? Because he did eat the Oreos.) Or when Brooks calls Brown’s writing abilities into question by not only pointing out his lack of credits, but also that he’s kind of old and is a “wedding singer” in a crappy band. (“This man, at age fifty at the time in question, had but two small writing credits to his entire career and was playing in a band that performed at weddings and gigs at places such as Monty’s Steak House”—*audible, knowing gasps in the courtroom, as this is a steak house of ill repute*)
He also argues that Brown, as the Manchurian Screenwriter, comes across as brainwashed when speaking to the press: “His few, controlled, public interviews seem rehearsed and are noticeably flabbergasting to interviewers and the reading or listening audience,” the suit says, finally explaining what that flabbergasting was about. (It was pretty noticeable.)
And then there’s this paragraph, elucidating Handfield’s “fingerprints and DNA” on Trouble With The Curve that serve as evidence of his very unique writing style—such as his use of the word “pissed,” bar fights where beer bottles get broken, and scenes where you know characters are thinking about the past because they’re looking at family photos:
Handfield’s way of writing, his references to country or honky-tonk bars, his habit of using the word “pissed,” his tendency to employ bar fight scenes involving broken beer bottles, his employment of dialogue about past wars or war veterans, his favorite practice of writing scenes which incorporate classic older cars, even if in a beat-up condition, and his use of “family photos” to drive home a character’s reflection on past memories are present in Trouble with the Curve, just as they are also in all permutations of Omaha that he wrote with Brooks.
Other things unique to Omaha, and certainly no other screenplay, are characterizations of the father as “cantankerous,” i.e., “[He] eats dinner food for breakfast; drives his old car, including crashing it into the garage; and does things his own way. He drinks scotch when upset and curses a bit too much. But, alas, he has a tender side.” Also, this uniquely tough yet loveable old man [spoiler] eventually reconciles with his estranged family member, and the baseball players eventually do well at baseball.
If these arguments are not damning enough, the lawsuit really brings it all home with paragraphs taking aim at the entire industry, and every lying, cheating scumbag within it. And then it’s up to the courts to serve as a “beacon” in this darkness, to ensure that our bereft society finds a way back to the light as surely as a grieving Clint Eastwood can find a way back to his daughter, even if he sometimes curses a bit too much:
Cheating is cheating, in any walk of life and in any manner, and just because one works behind the curtain of Tinsel Town does not make cheating acceptable or proper, especially for those who have such great influence over our society…. The evidence will underscore the need for deeper investigations by elected officials into the decay of ethics within the halls of Hollywood.
Articles have been written suggesting that the courts of law have become bouncers at the door of justice; thereby preventing victims of such greed and avarice from securing a remedy, and thereby shining a light on the degenerating ethics of this darkening industry. This case will serve as a beacon of light for those who wish to follow in an effort to rid the industry of such corruption. This case is built on evidence, hard facts, persuasive expert opinions, investigative reports, common sense, and the exposed egos of those who believe that grown adults can lie egregiously without getting caught because they think they are invincible.
Warner Bros. has yet to comment on the lawsuit, concealed as it is too deeply behind the curtain of Tinsel Town, sequestered in the smoke-blackened backrooms of the Dream Factory, where you can hear the screams of the slaughtered sacrificial lambs of innocent screenwriters being fed ceaselessly into the maw of the movie machine as they echo fruitlessly off their celluloid cells—a death scene on which the director never, ever calls “Cut,” and the craft services table is always laden with the bitter, salty pretzels of perfidy. Also, presumably it’s just too busy prepping Bouncers At The Door Of Justice.