Moneyball

Moneyball is different for me than most movies I’ve seen recently. It’s about something I have a keen interest in, baseball, and I had read the book only a month or so before I saw the film. This seems to be both a blessing and a curse for it, since I have an appreciation of what they are talking about, and am a fan of sabermetrics (the type of stats that they use in the film to find good players). However it means that I can also see glaringly the things they left out or changed. I’m never a fan of the people who always say that the book is better than the film; they are two different pieces of art and it would be like saying a Picasso is better than a Shostakovitch symphony. There are times on the other hand where changes to the book seem needless and maybe even counter productive. This is, unfortunately, the case in Moneyball but we’ll come to that after a look at what is good about it.

One of the best parts about this film is the acting, with all the main characters giving at least an average performance. I had read so much about Pitts performance that I was somewhat disappointed in his portrayal of BIlly Beane. He was by no means bad, I could see an Oscar nomination, and he seems to capture most of what we see in the book, but one of things the book pushes a fair bit is Beane’s anger issues which, while we see it, seemed slightly out of place from Pitt. Thankfully Pitt was the worst of the major cast members with Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman really bringing their A game. Hoffman, true to form, has a great showing as Art Howe being both forceful and convincing. Jonah Hill came as a big surprise for me, I’ve never been a fan of his and wasn’t expecting too much from him. But he manages to pull of the Yale educated economist perfectly, with an almost perfect mix of awkwardness and assertiveness. It is with Hill’s character that my main issue with the screenplay comes in, the character in the book, Paul DePodesta, is rather different from the one Hill plays.

In the book,and real life, Paul is a good looking outspoken man, maybe not a polar opposite of Hills character but pretty darn close. I’m always unsure about permissions and such that are needed to feature people in biopics so that might be the reason they couldn’t show Paul. However if he was in the book I would think that a movie on the book would be able to use him also. The problem is just how stereotypical the nerd Hill plays is, it just seems to be too much and I don’t see how the film was improved by the addition of such a tired trope. Other than this the rest of the screenplay is well done, though more time spent on BIlly Beane’s career would have been nice. Seeing how much trouble he had, when he was supposed to be a perfect prospect, really puts his trying to put a cheap team together into perspective.

The soundtrack is adequate, while nothing amazing it does its job and puts you in the mood. Though they make it seem like the song Beane’s daughter plays is her own, which it isn’t (The Show by Kerris Dorsey), and I don’t understand why they couldn’t just write a song for her to play. The acting is good enough that even an only adequate soundtrack doesn’t really take much away from the experience.

Overall Moneyball was an enjoyable film, with the acting being the highlight, and I would say it’s one that everyone should try to see. Even if you’re not a fan of baseball you should be fine, and can still have a good time watching it.

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~ by Chris Stevens on January 6, 2012.

One Response to “Moneyball”

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