FanPost

Moneyball: A Brief Movie Review

I got to see an advance screening of Moneyball last night and I thought you guys might be interested in a little review. I've been anticipating this one for a while now, even though I was skeptical as to how it'd translate to film. But, I mean, as far as SABR related stuff goes, I'm sure this would be easiest to put on screen (try adapting Tom Tango's "The Book", Sorkin). So I lined up at the theater last night excited but not completely optimistic. But even if it were no good, at least I'd get to see how actual filmmakers decided to tackle it.

Up front, I should say I'm something of an Aaron Sorkin hater. I know his screenplay has been edited a bit, but I'm not sure to what extent. If you've seen The Social Network or any number of episodes of The West Wing, you probably have a pretty decent idea of his style of dialogue. I find his characters to be overly witty and quick. Luckily, this wasn't the case here. I overheard somebody after the movie say that Sorkin must've had nothing to do with the dialogue, because it just didn't sound like his style. He meant it as a complaint, while I think that's a huge bit of praise. My worst fear was that Billy Beane would be walking around talking like Mark Zuckerberg or Sam Seaborn.

The film definitely stresses the idea that the Athletics were using certain statistics to spot inefficiencies in the market, but its message isn't always entirely consistent. In certain scenes it felt as if the Athletics' success was due more to Beane increasing his interaction with the players than his underlying philosophy. When the film did veer into the stat/SABR type stuff (even though, now, some of it seems so quaint), it often did so with somewhat awkward exposition. Bill James is mentioned a few times offhand in a way that people unfamiliar with this kind of stuff may find confusing. But the very fact that a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt was even mentioning Bill James was kind of neat.

My main gripe with the film is that it didn't seem to know what its focus was. Is this a movie about a group of lovable underdogs? Is it about statistics? Or what about a man's attempt to buck conventional wisdom? It focuses a bit on each of these things at the detriment of a more cohesive narrative. Make no mistake, I definitely had fun watching the movie, but I feel like that's because I'm a baseball fan. I'm not sure if anybody else in the audience felt as sad as I did when the Athletics "experiment" was called a failure simply because they lost in the playoffs.

As for Phillies stuff: you may see a few familiar faces and the Phils may be mentioned once or twice, so look out for that.


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