Friday night I told my wife we were going to see a Brad Pitt movie and then dinner at Outback. Needless to say she was instantly on board. No more than 15 minutes after I got off work we were sitting in a movie theater watching previews for J. Edgar, The Iron Lady, Anonymous and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in anticipation of the movie Moneyball.
With several script re-writes and being dropped a couple times the Moneyball movie has not had the easiest time making into the movie theaters. Some of that uneasy production comes to the forefront in the movie with awkward back and forth's between characters and a documentary like feel to the whole movie. But that doesn't mean it's a bad movie, just well traveled.
The movie does a good job of gripping the viewer with a lot of drama and turning points in the first hour of the movie, which is what any good movie should do. A good pace is set through a majority of the movie with the exception of the last 15-20 minutes which dragged on towards it's conclusion. There were also a lot of unnecessary scenes that didn't really help advance the story. Some of those scenes felt like they were in the movie simply to make for a more interesting preview.
If you're looking for baseball action there is very little in this movie and nor should there be considering it's focus is on the front office. The baseball action that is in the movie is primarily part of montages and old game footage. Again that wasn't a problem for me however my wife did mention that she thought there would be more baseball footage. If you're going into this movie expecting to see baseball action you'll be disappointed.
The majority of the movie then revolves around the interaction between the characters in the front office and the conflicts that arise from those interactions. Most of the interactions have an awkward feel to them which may of been intended but I felt were probably more due to uneasy production of the movie. Not all the interactions were awkward though. The back and forth between Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) was a lot of fun. The scene towards the end of the movie involving John Henry (Arliss Howard) and Bill Beane (Pitt) was very well done. Then there's Jonah Hill who plays Peter Brand a fictional player based on Paul DePodesta's role in the book. I didn't really see the connection between he and Pitt that I've read some people talk about, but I can see why DePodesta asked to have his name taken out of the movie. It's not a bad portrayal it's just the wrong portrayal and something that was done to create a more interesting story.
If you're stickler for baseball accuracy you're better off not seeing the movie or at least not fact checking. There are some inaccuracies, not a lot of them but just enough that it may drive you nuts if that's something you care about. They are however done for good reasons and do heighten the story being told.
Today's baseball has moved past the notion that you can build a team entirely with statistics and has come to realize that yes scouting is important too. This isn't a movie that's going to champion the use of advanced statistics or even the concept of exploiting market inefficiencies. Instead it's a movie about the book and it stays fairly true to that story. If you're expecting something else you'll be sorely disappointed.
When the movie finished I asked my wife, who has a very general knowledge of baseball, what she thought and she said it was a good movie. A lot of other patrons around us echoed that same sentiment, one even mentioning "no wonder the dialogue was good Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) was involved." I thought the dialogue in The Social Network was better but Moneyball's was pretty good.
As an Astro fan there are very few references to our beloved team. Ed Wade is in the movie but only as a voice. You may find the interaction Beane has with Wade a little bit satisfying. The only other reference I could find was an intro to a flashback in which you see the word Astros. But I'm pretty sure I saw the picture of a former Astros shortstop in the movie as well.
Overall the movie does a good job of getting the story out of the book and onto the big screen. It has it's flaws but most of those are done to make a more interesting and entertaining story. Probably the best thing about the movie is that you can take just about anyone to go see it and they'll have an enjoyable experience. Promoting the game in this fashion can only be a good thing.