Okay. Moneyball. This is yet another long-ass movie review. Hang onto your hat. (Some spoilers follow, but it’s a movie based off real events, so…)
This was a very interesting movie. It comes in at about two and a half hours, quite a bit longer than it really needed to be. (Probably about half an hour of fat in there, I’d need a re-watch to ascertain exactly what that is, but it was there.) The general premise is it’s one man’s story of how he tries to re-invent the game of baseball by structuring teams differently and re-allocating funds to meet his ends. It’s a compelling concept, and what happened in reality is interesting, as well. I remember I was in middle school when the A’s had their 20-game winning streak, one of the longest in MLB history, only to go nowhere with it. They show this part of the season very well. People were captivated by baseball in this time, especially since the A’s have a big rep for just sucking a ludicrous amount of nard most of the time. (As far as I can tell.)
The screenplay (co-written by Aaron Sorkin, who seems to be the go-to guy for this sort of thing) does an awesome job helping people who aren’t as sports-inclined (such as yours truly) feel like they know what they’re watching. It’s broken down to a numbers game, something someone like me would just infer to be a part of everything. Apparently not. We see a room full of old dudes going over things like how handsome the players are and how much they party as opposed to how many runs they hit and how good they are at getting on base. Then Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) rolls in and decides to fuck things up, with the help of Peter Brand (Jonah Hill).
This is the film’s first failing. We get a lot of Billy. More than we need, really. (He throws more tantrums than a man of his stature should.) What about Peter? This is the guy who came up with the formula. He’s an economics major from Yale who got a job for the Cleveland Indians out of fucking nowhere and managed to be exactly what Billy was looking for. We see Billy at home, with his ex-wife, with his daughter, with other baseball professionals talking about what he’s doing, but Peter is just shown as a contrast to Billy, either an under-experienced rookie or some kind of secret genius, depending on what the scene needs. Why not show him at home? Why not get a little bit into why he wanted to get involved with baseball? (And I mean besides all this “love of the game” shit, I’m tired of that being the only reason people are involved in sports in sports movies, gimme some gravitas for Christ’s sake.) Jonah Hill’s a solid actor, especially for this type of character. He’s an enthusiastic smart kid that needs to prove himself. He’s a toned-down, book-smart version of his character in Get Him to the Greek. Run with that.
Also, a bit more of the players would be cool. Chris Pratt (Andy from Parks and Recreation!) plays a catcher who’s playing first base for the first time, and he’s really good, but besides his fumbles/ sudden proficiency, we don’t know him. Same with the awkward, freaky pitcher. What’s his deal? He’s got a weird beard and he prays for people. What else has he got? Jeremy Giambi likes to party, and he’s not horribly into anything else. He’s also the brother of one of the major players the A’s lost in the last season. That’s something! Escaping the superior sibling’s shadow! That’s a movie by itself! We spend a lot of time with the old scouts and Art Howe, the A’s team manager (portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in a solid-but-unnecessarily-good performance), but, except David Justice, very little one-on-one time is spent with the players. Why not show the face of the sport? Could it be that we have enough of that? Maybe. But that’s for a reason, right?
Overall, excellent movie for sports fans. Pretty good movie for people with a passing interest, or at least people who like sports movies. Mind-numbingly tedious for everyone else.
Mainly, this was a rambly excuse to post the cool Japanese movie poster. So.