Sunday, October 9, 2011

Moneyball (2011)

So, unless you have been buried under a rock for sometime, you know that Moneyball is the latest and greatest thing at the box office.  The movie features Brad Pitt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill in a purportedly true story about how Billy Beane and the Oakland A's revolutionized the game of Major League baseball.

If the story is accurate, they reinvented the way general managers staff their ball-club, using techniques not unlike those found in the fantasy leagues.  I say "if the story is accurate" because I honestly don't know.  I wasn't watching a lot of baseball back in those days, and I still don't watch that much now.  As you well know, football is my sport, and this is my one area of expertise in the realm of sports.

Moneyball is a pretty good movie, but it isn't everything it is cracked up to be.  Based on the scores, you would expect this to be a major-league Oscar contender.  I seriously doubt it.  This may well be one of the best films of 2011, but that is damning with extremely faint praise.  This movie is over-rated because it stands out sharply in the cesspool of 2011 movies.

Am I alone here when I say 2011 has been the most disastrous and wretched year for movies ever?  I am not joking around either, folks.  This is the worst year for movies I have ever seen, and I have been walking this Earth for something close to 45 years now.  I crawled around before that.  I have seen a few bad years during my time, but nothing quite as bad as this.  Frankly, no other year I have experienced ever came close to this.

So why isn't Moneyball the best picture of 2011?  Primarily because the director wasted tremendous amounts of time setting up and lingering upon big, huge, heavy-handed, somber moments of emotional drama.  I would have greatly preferred more of the science of moneyball in my Moneyball (2011) movie.  There was some of that, but not nearly enough.

I am not a water sign chick.  I am not an emotional junkie.  I do not favor intense, big, huge, heavy-handed, somber moments of emotional drama.  This sort of tone is especially out-of-order with a baseball movie, which aught to be lite and fun.  I am an Earth sign guy with a lot of fire in my chart.  I would have greatly preferred much deeper scientific insights into the practical methods of how to make it happen in MLB.  I wanted the expert's manual on how to be a successful GM.

I got much more of an emotional drama about a divorced father's life in baseball.  I found that downright boring, folks.  Sorry ladies, it almost put me to sleep in a couple places.

Now why did director Bennett Miller, a Capricorn brother about 4 months younger than me, do this movie this way?  Because he had a practical issue he had to deal with.  Brad Pitt is a chick-magnet.  The chicks showed up in force at the theater I went to in Fresno California last weekend.  You would never have known you bought a ticket to a baseball movie, if you took a pre-game snapshot of the theater I was in.

You know the average Pitt-loving chick is not going to groove on the mathematical formulas for putting a baseball team together.  That will put her to sleep.  On the other hand, the emotional drama of a divorced Pitt trying to stay alive in baseball, and stay connected to his daughter at the same time, just might have some emotional resonance with these women.

In the final analysis, this movie suffers from target audience confusion, a syndrome afflicting many movies these days.  It is further proof that you just can't do a guys & dolls cross-over movie.  You are going to have to decide who your audience is, and you are going to have to target that audience sharply.

For me, personally, there is one interesting fact about this movie.  It has had a lingering impact on my interest in the sport.  I find myself watching the MLB playoffs right now.  I am interested in the scores suddenly.  I am interested in the analysis I hear on the radio.  Seeing this movie did move the needle.  My interest level has increased because I saw this movie.