Tuesday Review: Moneyball

Tuesday Review: Moneyball

Moneyball (2011)PG-13 133 min

I don’t follow stick and ball sports.

Hell I have ENOUGH to do during the endless NASCAR season. And..they pay me to do that.

So going into it, me viewing “Moneyball” was already a stretch before we got to the previews on the DVD. One reason I don’t follow baseball or football is that I don’t know the rules well enough to truly enjoy the nuances of the game. A movie about the machinations behind the scenes in baseball just couldn’t be good for me, could it?

The answer is wrong, wrong, wrong.

“Moneyball” was fast moving, compelling and really interesting. It was also heartfelt, something I really didn’t expect.

In the film, adapted from the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane the beleaguered GM of the hapless underfunded Oakland A’s. Up against the huge budgets of teams like the monolithic N.Y. Yankees, he improbably gets the team close to the big prize.

He does it by using the controversial statistical approach sometimes referred to as “Moneyball” or Sabermetrics which uses computer programs and analysis of players that go against the grain of traditional baseball. He is branded a renegade, a fool and meets resistance at every turn. And worse, because the manager of the team, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe will not follow his direction they are failing miserably.

Beane eventually prevails, the team goes on an unprecedented winning streak and Beane is more or less vindicated.

The two big plots are both about love. Billy’s love; for the game and for his young daughter, Casey Beane played by Kerris Dorsey who does a heartwarming scene in which she doesn’t appear on screen.

This film is directed by Bennet Miller who is at the helm for Foxcatcher (pre-production) and did Capote 1998 and The Cruise (documentary), and brings a documentary sensibility to the production. Very little of the action is on the playing field but when it is the soundtrack is manipulated powerfully with the use of a technique I was taught in radio. Silence. Dead air. Nothing rivets the attention better.

Pitt plays it restrained almost to a fault. Seymour Hoffman plays it a but over the top and is tough to recognize under all those layers of heft.

It’s a great popcorn family movie which gets the PG-13 mainly for some swearing which in context is no worse than 11 year olds hear everyday.

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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