107- Moneyball [6.0]

Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s and the guy who assembles the team, has an epiphany: all of baseball’s conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, Beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs.

As a longtime baseball fan, there are a lot of elements of Moneyball that I enjoyed. For one, the statistical breakdowns of how a victorious season can come about based on a certain combination of players is intriguing (and judging by the Red Sox eventually employing Beane’s methods, possibly factual). I also enjoyed that the film delved into the emotional heart of the game. Yes, at the end of the day it is just a game, but for some, there’s a heavy investment into the sport.

My real issue with Moneyball is just how damn pedestrian the whole affair is. The closest thing to an antagonist is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Art Howe, but even then, the audience may very well side with Howe’s logic and calm demeanor. Hoffman is one of my favorite actors, and it was a pleasure seeing him not chew the scenery even once in a movie. If anything, his low key attitude was almost more frightening than the explosive side of Hoffman’s range. I was also surprised by how good a subdued Jonah Hill can be. There’s a texture to his performance that I didn’t think he was otherwise capable of.

The strangest thing about Moneyball is something I can’t necessarily hold against the filmmakers: being based on a true story, we’re viewing a semi-factual account of events from way back to…ten years ago. Perhaps there’s not enough time between then and now to have the weight of the story sink in (though the A’s winning 20 consecutive games is still remarkable). Maybe in a few years I’ll revisit Moneyball and think higher of it.

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