Saturday, September 24, 2011

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Moneyball

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

I wanted this movie to be better. It was good, make no mistake, but I thought it could have been great. Brad Pitt is commanding as Billy Beane and turns in what will likely and should be an award-garnering performance full of intensity, charisma and depth. I wasn't so much sold on Jonah Hill and that hurt the film a great deal for me. I give Hill credit for trying to rein in his usual comedic delivery, but I felt like even toned down most of his line readings came off unintentionally awkward and funny, which took me out of the moment more than once; Peter Brand is not supposed to be the comic relief here, he's supposed to be a key part of the story's nucleus, and I was unable to take him seriously. The story was engaging and the script was good, but the pacing jumped around. I liked the juxtaposition of Beane's younger years with his current struggles, but they failed to keep a consistency of how they balanced the two, giving the former a lot of real estate in the first half of the movie and then dropping it suddenly about halfway in only to pull back to it at very random times. There were scenes that were absolutely brilliant--any time Beane is orchestrating trades or dealing with his scouts is, pardon the pun, money--but the glue between them was shaky. The transitions between acts didn't hold up for me; the acts themselves taken alone were very good, but it felt like they were missing a lot of build and just jumping from one key point to the next. The climax to the film was pretty unforgivably over-dramatized; I understand and appreciate the need for theatrics in sports movies (I love Rocky), but the way they frame Beane supposedly jinxing the A's winning their 20th straight was hokey to the max. Chris Pratt was surprisingly good in the sense that he swapped out just enough of his comedic tendencies in a way I wish Hill could have. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a non-factor. I'll still rank this movie highly and recommend it based off things like Pitt's terrific performance, the tight script, solid directing and that the good scenes are really, really good, but it's missing too much in the connective tissue to achieve its full potential as an all-time classic.

2 comments:

Ike Iszany said...

Too bad the entire core concept, the "moneyball", is BS. The Oakland A's were good because they had the best pitching staff in the AL. Not because Billy Beane went out and got a bunch of washed up major leaguers who could walk. They distort and omit facts to further their own narrative worse than Fox News.

France said...

In MoneyBall there is a game, there is a 'money game', and there is life. Billy Beane loses, loses, and wins. By this I mean no disparagement on the game of baseball, which after all, drives the entire script (and most of our lives). Frankly, seeing how those other two games are played, can any of us be faulted for sticking with baseball?