Moneyball [Celluloid Hero]
I hate to be that guy who says “the book was better” but…the book was better.
The book “Moneyball”, written by Michael Lewis, was the inside look at Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. Beane led what amounted to a revolution against the traditional methods of scouting and creating a winning baseball team, by ignoring established stats and taking a more scientific approach to building a team.
I love baseball, so part of me was just a sucker and totally fell for this movie. I’m a Yankee fan, so admittedly I can’t relate to the small-market mentality, but I still love to see the underdog figure out a way to win. Still, most of the movie fell flat for me. Brad Pitt’s acting was great, Jonah Hill was good, but I felt like everybody else came up short. Philip Seymour Hoffman was out of place, and most of the other actors portraying the ballplayers did nothing for me (except for Chris Pratt’s work as Scott Hatteberg). Aaron Sorkin usually impresses me with his writing, but this felt very un-Sorkin to me.
The book came out in 2003, and Brad Pitt had been trying to get the movie done for a while. Because I’m a pretty big geek, I actually found one of the original screenplays online, and read the whole thing. I really enjoyed it, although it may have spoiled my expectations for the final cut of the movie. The main knock against turning the book into a movie was that the book revolves around statistics, and it would be impossible to really bring that to the screen. I feel like that was a pretty accurate criticism. The on-screen depiction of the lives of the players and management came off feeling melodramatic and at times fictional, and just never really pulled me in.
On the Celluloid Hero scale, “Moneyball” gets a 5 out of 10.
[Each week, Varacchi explores cinema from his own perspective. From indie to foreign to mainstream, he’ll watch it all. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome, leave a comment below. CLICK HERE for the Celluloid Hero archives]