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Moneyball - The B/S Review

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Before I get into the review, I want to establish that this blog is merely a movie review of a baseball-themed movie and not comparing the book to the movie to what happened in real life. It is only that. And I encourage blog responses to be your own reviews and opinions of the movie. After all, it' that baseball stuff.. in it.

What is interesting to me, like any movie that stands in the public mainstream spotlight, are the changes that film goes through before finally being completed. For "Moneyball", it's interesting that the final director was the third director tabbed to helm the movie. The first guy, well, his claim to fames are "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Marley & Me". Which, if you have looked up the guy who ended up directing- Bennett Miller- had a very un-expansive resume that included "Capote" and being in DVD extras for "Knocked Up". Sandwiched in between was that Steven Soderbergh guy. My personal opinion is that "Moneyball" was too simple for his complicated..complicatedness. Ultimately, a guy with not much big time directing experience wins out and does fine a job when yes, this movie was not overly complicated. It was straight-forward.

If I wasn't a real fan of baseball and didn't know anything about the book, I would simply ask "why is this a movie..?". There is no happy ending. This is based on real life, and real life has not been kind to the people depicted in this movie. Ironically, Oakland capped another fire sale during the movie's run in the public's eye. That seems to be a problem with most "based on real events" although we truly know, this was true events. Situations were obviously overly dramatized for just for the box office-sake. But we know what happens. It doesn't end well. And ultimately, Oakland only ever got past the Minnesota Twins, only to lose in the next round, and never make much more of an impact in the post season after that. We know they kept losing to the Empire. We know Beane turned down the Red Sox to stay with Oakland and that hasn't gone well for him. All in all, the movie is pretty depressing in that sense. I've seen where "Moneyball" has been advertised as a family film of sorts. Granted, Beane may have had those kind of affections for his daughter in real life and perhaps that is truly why he did not leave, but this isn't a film to bring joys to all families. Unless it's a family of Yankee fans.

The acting was interesting and it's what drives this movie. Brad Pitt is as usual, one of the top tier dramatic actors that can do whatever he wants with his hair, and it works. This movie could have been renamed "Brad Pitt" and it would have been just as effective. Or the same thing. The supporting cast consists of former baseball players, C-list newbies, random cameos, and .....firstly, Jonah Hill trying his hand at the drama genre. Jonah Hill has been firing off some rather forgetful movies. Actually, almost everything since "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" that he has been in could be titled "Forgetting Jonah Hill". And then this happens. One thing, Jonah Hill is shrinking as each movie he appears in passes. At some point, he is going to be so unrecognizable, he can just change his name and start a new career. In "Moneyball"... meh. He does a good job at being the nerdy brains guy without being over the top as he typically is. Better yet, he has zero sequences of a 5 minute profanity laced tirade. I can't imagine how difficult it was for him to not have that. Would it have been highly fun for him to drop a 60 F-bomb rant on why Scott Hatteberg is more productive than Carlos Pena? Sign me up. And secondly, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe. Or as I would say after watching this movie, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the sulking old guy with bushy eyebrows. I had to look up Art Howe just to jog my memory. Fair resemblance..but..the eye brows. They were more dramatic than PSH's acting. Sure, big name, especially a name that gets a lot of Oscar recognition. What was more impressive, was the impeccable performance by Stephen Bishop as David Justice, in the way he accurately conveyed Justice's devout douche-y-ness. Spot..on.

I like the movie though, for what it was. It was interesting to me because I was an A's fan in those days and I remember the year they had the winning streak. I remember that summer quite well. It's the summer I got my A's hat while on vacation. It was the summer leading up to my senior year in high school. And I happily admit that I had cold chills when they were depicting win #20 against the Royals, that the A's blew a monster lead and won it on a walk off shot by Hatteberg. That all happened.. on my birthday. In hindsight, the movie has garnered many, many accolades. And continues to do so. I believe it has 6 nominations at the Academy Awards. But, in no way do I believe it should be amongst the best picture group and Jonah Hill amongst the best support actor group. I haven't seen any of the other films on the best picture list, but there's several I have seen that aren't nominated, that were far more impressive and will have made a lasting impression than "Moneyball".

It's still worth watching if you haven't yet seen it, especially for the baseball-loving community.
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  1. Witlon's Avatar
    It's an okay flick, and a must watch for a big baseball fan. They glossed over way too many things for it to be a "good" movie though.

    I mean, the low-market Indians being portrayed as a big money team when it came to Rincon, come on. And making a big deal about trading for a lefty reliever(that the movie tried to make you believe nobody had heard of) but not even mentioning trading for former all-star Ray Durham? I know it's supposed to be an underdog story, but, meh.

    Good review though, KoZ. The Jonah Hill thing is spot on. I think he and Pitt would have great chemistry in an R-rated action comedy, though.