Friday, September 23, 2011

Moneyball? Meh...Movie Review - Moneyball (2011)

I love baseball. I am a statistics freak. I've been known to keep a scorecard at baseball games. I have a formula that I use to determine weekly Major League Soccer Power Rankings and predict Major League Soccer matches.

I monitor to see the critics' consensus on movies to determine if I want to see the movie in a theater. Rotten? Forget about it. Ripe? I might consider it, as long as the subject matter interests me.

So out comes a movie, Moneyball. A story about Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), who has to figure out how to form a team with a limited payroll to compete against the big money clubs in Major League Baseball. He hires an economics major as his assistant (played by Jonah Hill) who has the ability to analyze statistics to measure the value of baseball players, thus uncovering "undervalued" players to form a team.

This method of scouting goes against the cultural norms of baseball scouting, providing a great backdrop for the movie.

This movie was ready-made for me.

Baseball? Check.

Statistics? Check.

Great actors? Brad Pitt? Jonah Hill? Philip Seymour Hoffman (playing Manager Art Howe)? Check.

A 94% ripe rating on Check!

This movie can't fail!

I was completely underwhelmed.

Don't get me wrong. The movie is OK. The premise is good.

However, I couldn't empathize with the Billy Beane (or Brad Pitt's portrayal of him) in the movie. Maybe it was his ego. The movie tries to show Billy Beane's vulnerabilities, but came up short.

Jonah Hill's character, Assistant General Manager Peter Brand, was somewhat funny. I just felt like I had seen it before, the stereotypical shy nerdy smart-type who is trying to make his way amongst the grizzled veterans in the sport. And how many times do I need to see Jonah Hill do the uncomfortable high five in a movie? Seen it before.

Moneyball misses the mark as it tries to be too many things. Is it a drama about the conflicts of work versus family, or an "us against them I'll be proven right" story, or a biopic on Billy Beane as the trailblazer in the application of sabermetrics to build a successful baseball team?

The movie seems to run too long. Heavy on dialog, as would be expected, but short on the interesting banter I would have expected in the interactions between the characters.

My expectations may have been too high. I can take responsibility for that. But for me Moneyball was, well, meh...


Dan O. said...

It may not feel quite like the classic baseball movie others have achieved, but it's certainly pleasant enough to be enjoyable even by non-sports fan, and features great performances from Hill and Pitt. Good review. Check out mine when you get a chance.

Jiresell said...

I will definitely check your review out. Thanks for the comment!

Andrew Faherty said...

Another Great Blog Post!