Lite’s Review Room – Weekend Movies: ‘Moneyball’ ‘Abduction’ & ‘Dolphin Tale’

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Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "Moneyball" - Green Carpet

The weekend is almost here again.  It seems like on Tuesdays you can’t wait for it get here and then by Thursday you feel like you have way too much to still do before you leave work for that fantastic two days of solace.  When the weekend gets here you know we’re thinking about what movies are coming out and what we’re going to see.  This week Lite’s Review Room look at ‘Moneyball‘, ‘Dolphin Tale‘ and a new movie from Taylor Lautner, ‘Abduction‘.

We have a bit of an anomaly this week with our featured movie for the weekend, ‘Moneyball’. Our Queen of the Silver Screen, Julie Fisk, saw it. And so did I. We walked into it with two completely different sets of expectations. So we’re going to give you two reviews on ‘Moneyball’ someone closely tied to the story (me) and someone who thought it was a football movie before she saw it (Julie).

We’ll start with my look at the new movie:

Moneyball:

Let’s start off by talking letting you know ‘Moneyball’ is based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis (‘The Blindside’). The book chronicles the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and his attempt to change how a baseball team is formed. I must tell you I’ve read the book six times and I grew up spending at least 30 days or nights a year at the Oakland Coliseum watching my beloved Oakland A’s. But let’s not worry about that and let’s get to the review.

[photogallerylink id=55807 align=left]‘Moneyball’ starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane and Jonah Hill as Beane’s young Yale graduate assistant GM Peter Brand. Brand has an interesting way of looking at baseball that intrigues Beane, a former player who was highly touted as a potential superstar who never panned out. Brand doesn’t look at size, skill or what kind of girlfriend a player has; he focuses on the numbers and he believes within numbers there is value. Beane needs value because the Oakland A’s don’t have a lot of money to spend and they just lost their three best players.

The movie takes you through the trials and tribulations of Beane and Brand as they try to change the way everyone in the A’s organization thinks. You watch as old scouts fight back, a manager that doesn’t want to listen to the General Manager and an owner who doesn’t want to spend another dime.

The action on the field is limited as there aren’t many scenes that take place on the field. Most of the action comes from the chair throwing Beane in the catacombs of the Oakland Coliseum. You also get a great look at Beane with his daughter Casey (Kerris Dorsey), which brings him down from the emotional roller coaster of running a Major League team.

The director Bennett Miller does a great job of incorporating actual audio from games along with video. As an A’s fan it was nice to hear the voice of the late great Bill King again calling the action along with other A’s broadcasters. Everything about the flow, the characters and the story for this movie is intriguing and well executed. (The minute details, like the outfield walls that were changed to represent the 2002 Coliseum will be missed by most and didn’t need to be done, but I really enjoyed the details Miller made sure were right with that kind of stuff.)

I would give this movie an A for overall feel, good flow and a fantastic story. Obviously I’m a little bias. I lived through the winning streak the movie uses as the climax of the movie. I like to say it was the best fan time of my life. But I believe the movie resonates with everyone. It isn’t so much a movie about the baseball as it is a movie about a business idea and the man behind that idea. Brad Pitt makes Billy Beane a likeable intense company manager who with severe financial restrictions has to figure out a way to make his business thrive. His business just happens to be baseball. Whether you’ve read the book, are a baseball fan or just like a good movie, this movie is worth the time. Will i go see it again? Yes. Will I wear my A’s gear…probably, maybe I’ll even bring my glove.

Julie?

Garret, I’m glad that you loved “Moneyball” as much as you did, but you read the book 6 TIMES? You know that there ARE other books out there that you can read, right? Even various great books about sports, all waiting for you to crack their seams.  In fact, I’d like to invite you to join my Book Club. We’d love to have a nice young man to pick on while we were drinking Margaritas and discussing books. Who am I kidding? We never actually talk about books!

I appreciate the invite, but I start reading the book the day the 20 game winning streak started (Aug. 13th) and try to drag it out until the end of the streak (Sept. 4th).  I also learn something new every time I read it.  I read other book the rest of the year, so consider me in!  I like my Margaritas on the rocks with just a bit of salt.  Now what did you think of the movie…it’s about baseball not football by the way.

“Moneyball” stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s General Manager who changed his team by using computer analysis, instead of the age-old statistics. One line that is repeated in “Moneyball” is, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” It’s ironic because “Moneyball” is not a romantic movie.

Sure, it has sweeping shots of the baseball diamond or the empty dug-out, but there’s no romancing the players. That’s because GM Billy Beane starts using a computer formula to choose low-paid players, instead of basing the decision on personalities and stats, like it was always done before. As a result, we don’t really get to know any of the Oakland A’s. Most of the movie rests on Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane, and to me, he’s a bit shallow. One of the best characters in the whole movie is Ron Washington, played by Brent Jennings and he only gets about 5 minutes of screen time.

“Moneyball” wants us to get behind its concept, not behind any particular player, and after great character based ball movies like “The Natural,” that’s kind of tough. It feels long, too. There’s about 10 excess minutes of simply watching Brad Pitt look pensive and chew tobacco. I like looking at Brad too, but come on. You can always count in a rousing 3rd act in any sports movie though & that’s why I’m giving “Moneyball” a B.

Big-time baseball fans can strike all of that though. If you’re one of those people who can quote stats like they’re your kid’s birthdays, you will probably give “Moneyball” an A. But even you will agree there simply isn’t enough Ron Washington.

I’ll give you the Ron Washington thing.  Glad you enjoyed it.  See you at the book club!

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