Holland 7, Theatre #7, 3:30pm
Well this will cost us more money, since we're going to have to buy the DVD when it comes out and add Moneyball to our collection of baseball movies.
I have a lot of respect for Brad Pitt, but we haven't liked a lot of his roles. We liked his Benjamin Button more than a lot of his critics. And before this, I guess I thought his manic crazy man in Twelve Monkeys was his best performance, followed by his brash young detective in Seven. But in Moneyball, Pitt has come of age.
As for the Oakland A's, while they are an American League team, they have two redeeming features. There's that whole underdog Oakland scrappy ball playing thing and the local angle. And after we moved down here, Grand Rapids started a Single-A minor league baseball team. For the first three years, the West Michigan Whitecaps were an Oakland A's franchise -- 1994-96. And in their third year, they won the Midwest League championship under Mike Quade, now manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Back to Moneyball. Brad Pitt plays Robert Redford here, or rather Billy Beane -- the general manager of the A's. Jonah Hill does a spectacular job as the new Flounder, or rather the geek economist following the sabermetrics footsteps of baseball stats guru Bill James -- SABR being the acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research. This is not Hollywood's first foray into such statistical measurement analysis. The late CBS TV show Numb3rs used sabermetrics in a number of episodes.
With a lot of dialogue, it's no surprise that Aaron Sorkin is involved. Yet surprisingly, it isn't all math and computers and talk -- at its heart this really is a baseball movie, with a lot of tension at key moments. Good use of real archival footage, too.
What Moneyball is about is challenging the established order. The A's budget on one hand and the Yankee's budget on the other. And all the other teams in between. How can you compete when coming close to the ALCS one year, your best players can be sucked away? So Billy Beane tries a new tact. What makes this exercise fun is that from the end credits, a lot of the crusty old guard scouts were played by the real crusty old guard scouts.
Not having read the book or having an encyclopedic knowledge of the A's, the whole movie comes off as fresh and exciting. Not your usual baseball movie, though if you think of it, all the great recent baseball movies, Field of Dreams, For Love of the Game and The Rookie, are not your usual baseball movie.
And as one who regularly jinxes his teams when I try to watch them, I can feel for Billy Beane not being able to watch his team play. (grin)