Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's all in the money

I haven't read the book that this was based on.  Nevertheless, I know most of the story behind it.  Moneyball was a way for teams in smaller markets with lesser payrolls to compete with the New York's, the Boston's and the Los Angeles' of the world.  It was a way to make your team competitive without spending 100 million on the payroll like the Yankees and Boston do every year.  It's an innovative way of building a sport's team in this day and age, a strategy used by almost everyone to this day.  So, how did it stack up?

First, all these "based on a true story" stuff has one natural flaw: some of the stuff didn't really happen.  I'm not just talking about minor details like so-and-so didn't ask for cookies from this other person.  I'm talking about this major character who does all this stuff in the movie doesn't actually exist.  In this movie's case, Jonah Hill's character never existed, at least not as one person.  He is actually a composite of several people, who were the real-life Billy Beane's (Brad Pitt's character) assistants and lieutenants.  Well who cares, as long as what he did was done by someone in real life, right?  However, the movie really goes out its way to show Hill's isolation from the rest of the traditional baseball people in the organization.  It endears his character quickly to the viewer, as the underdog nerdy smart kid in the room full of people who think they know better.  However, if Hill's character doesn't really exist, then that scene probably never happened, so based on what true story?

The other thing people should be aware of is that Pitt's character is not the person who actually came up with Moneyball.  That's Hill's character.  The only thing is, Pitt has just lost 3 of his best players to teams with higher payrolls, so he has no alternative but to do something drastic.  Pitt's character should be credited with giving Hill's character the platform and opportunity to put his plans into action, but that's it.  However, the movie delves into Billy Beane's personal life, the reason behind his philosophy and what not.  However, that's like going into the life of the guy who got the scientists together for the Manhattan Project.  He didn't really do anything but assemble the guys, they're the ones who did the breakthrough.  So, these scenes are really unnecessary, as Pitt's character did nothing really but recognize the guy who changed the way baseball's business was done and only then it was done out of pure desperation, it wasn't like he had a big vision or anything.

That being said, I really did enjoy the movie.  Pitt's portrayal of Beane is spot-on (from what I understand about the real man) and the interplay between Pitt and Hill is really good and often funny as well.  The scene with the trade conversations at the deadline was hilarious!  If that stuff is how it's actually done, then I would love to be a baseball GM, just to involved in such sheer lunacy.  This is a movie that can really be viewed by baseball fans and non-fans, though my feeling is baseball fans will probably get more enjoyment out of the movie. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

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