Moneyball – Review
This is all reactionary – After hearing from so many people who’s taste I respect in movies say how great Moneyball was I finally watched it. Sat down with the wife. It had Brad Pitt in it and was on quite a few Best Of lists for the year. It had fat Jonah Hill and not skinny freaky looking Jonah Hill. It even had Jack Bauer’s secret service buddy Aaron in it. What the movie didn’t have was a plot, action, drama or a composer. What they did have was a producer who saw The Social Network and said ‘I want our movie to look like that!’ Which they tried so hard to mimic. They also went with the minimalist approach to the score, but if you don’t have actors that are carrying any emotion or sense or urgency, it is painful and boring.
The ‘plot’ of the movie is Brad Pitt’s character is sick of running the lowest funded baseball team, the Oakland A’ at about 40 million a year, against $114,000,000 teams and losing. So he meets a Yale graduate on his first job and decides they will reinvent the way the game is played by playing stats instead of heart or some BS line. I say Brad Pitt’s character because he is nothing like the real person he is portraying. In real life his character, Billy Beane, was happily married and never went to players houses to recruit or flown into Chicago. So basically every thing he does in the movie is made up. The character that Jonah Hill plays, the real life person he is based on asked to have his name changed in the movie because it was nothing like him. In fact, Jonah Hill’s character already was working in Oakland in 1999, unlike the movie where Pitt finds him in 2001 being ignored by the man at a job and they decide to reinvent the way teams are assembled.
Those are just the minor differences in a movie based on real life events. And before I get to my point, the best thing in this movie was Andy from Parks & Rec. He was the only person with any real back story or feeling and anything to lose or gain. Everyone else just kind of is. He has more of a story arc than the main characters or the movie.
I normally enjoy watching Pitt on screen. He has a casual charm about him. In Moneyball he will utter two sentences, smile and sit silently while the camera just hangs around. He has two big speeches in the film. And both are atrocious. In one he flips over a desk, walks into the locker room, tells everyone to stop. Then he pauses in the silence and says ‘This is what losing sounds like.’ Then he tips over the Gatorade on his way out of the door. All I could think about was how bad I can’t wait to watch Major League. . . The biggest problem for me in this movie was every time Pitt would talk he would use as few words as possible, give a sly grin and sit there like everyone wants to hump him. Which works fine if there are women in the movie to play off of that. All we had were ball players that played catch and then got traded.
Speaking of women, Pitt’s daughter in the movie, I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out if she was handicapped or not. I don’t think she was, but she served no purpose to the story.
Any sense of urgency in the film is gone because when Pitt is faced with a challenge or time frame he just smiles and says it will be OK and then the scene cuts away and it’s OK. At no point in this movie do you feel like anyone’s job is in danger. There is no sense that maybe something bad will happen if they don’t win.
Anyways, because Pitt and Hill hired only cheap players and won 20 games in a row this was, I guess, a big deal. And no, they don’t win a championship. There is a line towards the end of the movie where Pitt says something along the lines of “People will forget what we did here. Unless you win the last game no one cares. It was all pointless.” It is such a true line. NOTHING happens this whole movie and at the end, it really was all pointless. Baseball is still the same. He still has a job. The A’s are still cheap.
There is a running line through the movie about the romance of the game. Which felt so flat and awkward because the main characters were removing any and all emotion and just relying on data and statistics. Maybe they were being sarcastic. I couldn’t tell because they never really talked about anything coherent in the movie. But for me, this was a giant waste of time and effort. They took all the statistics of what they thought makes a great drama and by doing so made a movie so ‘artistic licensed’ that it barely resembles any real life events. Which is fitting I guess. The last scene of the movie (spoiler alert!) is the camera focused on Pitt’s eyes waiting for him to drop a tear. But like the rest of the movie, there is no emotion from him. Eh – If you have seen this movie I would love to hear what you thought about it!