I wanted to love Moneyball, I really did. The book the film is based off of was one of the defining sports reads of my life (while I still disagree with much of it), it's a baseball movie (I'm a sucker for baseball flicks), and it stars Brad Pitt fer chrissakes ('Bon-jer-no'). I am, decidedly, this movie's target audience. And yet, in retrospect, the film wasn't all that good.
To be clear, I had a great time watching it. I got more chuckles out of the subtle jokes than many in the theater did, I was enthralled by the machinations of a clubs front office, and I ate up the beautiful presentation of the game I love. Unfortunately, as a film, this beast was doomed from the start.
I could sit here and get picky, that Billy Beane would never have gone to the Indians offices to discuss a mid-level trade (where, in the film, he discovers the fictitious Peter Brand) or that the A's had built the "moneyball" system into the organization in the years prior to '02, but that would be nearsighted of me. Ultimately, this film fails because it has nothing to build to.
The character study of Beane, the acerbic A's GM, is brilliant and compelling (mostly 'cause Pitt is a fantastic actor), but there is no larger story arc. The A's of the early 2000's are interesting only in respect to their ability to root out a store of under-valued talent that professional baseball had essentially never tapped. While their example ushered in a new era of player evaluation and development, they lack the ultimate success, or shocking failure, that makes for a good story. Outside of "Billy being Billy," there's really nothing to this film.
|Pitt is fantastic as Beane, yet he's driving the film to nowhere in particular.|
Scott Hatterberg, played charmingly, yet briefly, by Parks and Recreation favorite Chris Pratt, hits his "dramatic" home run off the "great" Jason Grimsley. I'm supposed to be entertained? It's fucking Jason Grimsley! I cannot stress this enough. Beating the Royals during the century's first decade, no matter the context, does not make for good drama.
|Pratt is awesome, but his climactic home run struck me hollow.|
Regardless, Pitt is fantastic, and the flick is compelling enough to hold your attention throughout it's over 2 hour run-time. See it, but don't be surprised if you find the final 30 minutes to be anti-climactic.