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A couple of early “Moneyball” movie reviews are out

Mar 25, 2011, 5:02 PM EDT

Moneyball

The website Hollywood Elsewhere has a couple of movie reviews from a sneak preview screening of the “Moneyball” movie.  The first one consists of the gut impressions of a person who seems not to be a baseball fan.  They suggest to me — along with the fact that there are three (3) prominent female roles in a movie about a baseball team — that it’s a broader movie, designed for more of a non-sports audience. Which is sort of what I expected following the success of the other Michael Lewis book-turned-movie, “The Blind Side.”

The second review however, which starts below the Brad Pitt pic, is a more conventional review, which, in contrast, says it’s all baseball:

“Director Bennett Miller, writers Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, and Sony Pictures have gone ahead and come up with something truly unique and special. Moneyball has little concern for things like drama, character arcs, or third-act thrills. There are elements of each of these things to be found in the film, but it is first and foremost a movie about baseball, about the intricacies of sports and statistics, and how a passion and deep understanding of the minutia can lead one down the possible path to victory.”

Hurm. What to make of two vastly different impressions from what appear to be the same screening?  I’m not sure.

But if Sony wants to fly me out to a preview screening someplace (someplace nice, please) then I can settle this once and for all.

  1. steveflack - Mar 25, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    “…how a passion and deep understanding of the minutia can lead one down the possible path to victory.”

    Victory? Man, they must have made a lot of changes to the book.

    • dfensfelix - Mar 25, 2011 at 5:47 PM

      If I remember correctly (it’s been a while since I read the book), the A’s won around 100 games after they started working the sabermetrics angle, and with guys no one else was seeing a lot of value in. They may not have gone to the series, but it was a vast improvement from where they were prior…

      • apbaguy - Mar 25, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        and where they are now…

    • scatterbrian - Mar 25, 2011 at 8:53 PM

      “and where they are now…”

      Come on man, they’re on their way back up.

  2. florida76 - Mar 25, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    As I suspected, this will be a very loose, heavily fictionalized account based on the MoneyBall book. It will try to appeal to the female audience, while copying the formula from the Social Network movie. Expect the A’s to be portrayed as a Single A franchise in this movie, and everyone in the organization against the Billy Beane character. The game highlights will feature a ton of plays against the Yankees and Boston, to give viewers the false impression the A’s had to compete those teams in their own division.

    Ultimately though, even non baseball fans will discover the missing essential ingredient of any movie-no compelling ending. Winning a division against teams like the Rangers, Angels, and Mariners doesn’t hack it. In fact, that A’s team was beaten by Minnesota that season in the playoffs, further reducing the drama.

    • JBerardi - Mar 25, 2011 at 6:33 PM

      Ultimately though, even non baseball fans will discover the missing essential ingredient of any movie-no compelling ending. Winning a division against teams like the Rangers, Angels, and Mariners doesn’t hack it.

      How do you even know that’s when they end the movie?

      • florida76 - Mar 25, 2011 at 7:17 PM

        As far as ending the movie, you can’t change the facts of the season. The highest point was winning the division, and they can’t even add a postscript to this event. Those Billy Beane teams never did reach the promised land.

      • JBerardi - Mar 25, 2011 at 7:25 PM

        But my point is, what if the credits roll after that Scott Hatteburg walk-off or something? The ending of the movie doesn’t have to be the end of the actual season. It could just be something symbolic. You’re really selling the creativity of the people behind this movie short.

      • scatterbrian - Mar 25, 2011 at 8:47 PM

        florida, you’re assuming way too much.

      • loungefly74 - Mar 26, 2011 at 5:08 PM

        i think florida76 wants a movie about the Tampa Bay Rays instead…(yeah, i remember those comments florida76)…I guess florida76 is missing the point of what made Moneyball the book a success. if you have to ask what that is, read it.

    • fquaye149 - Mar 26, 2011 at 2:40 AM

      Certainly no baseball movie in history about lovable underdogs has ever ended with the team failing to win the championship of the league or before they even play in the World Series.

      Signed,

      Walter Matthau and Charlie Sheen

  3. Amsterdamned - Mar 25, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    The first reviewer didn’t seem to know much about the sport, referring to Beane as the “one time” GM. Also I think the A’s were more than “moderately hot”. Sure in the long run Moneyball hasn’t won them any championships but there have been long stretches where they were the hottest team in baseball.

    Also I gotta love florida76 spouting off like a know-it-all. Of course he can do that cause it’s the interwebs, and if he’s totally wrong no one will remember when the movie actually comes out. How about actually reading the full reviews from both people first, eh? The second reviewer even says “Rather, it is the first of its kind: a sports film seen through the prism of sports.” But yeah, I guess he’s right, that Aaron Sorkin is a hack. What’s he ever done? And that cast? Brad who? Jonah what? Phillip Seymour Whoman?

    With the people involved, at least from these two reviews it sounds like they may have taken something that doesn’t seem like it would make a good film and made a good one. The fact it’s about baseball is even better.

    • florida76 - Mar 25, 2011 at 7:27 PM

      Amsterdammed, please name me a sports movie based on reality which didn’t have a compelling ending. No, I didn’t think you could come up with one either.

      And yes, those A’s were only “moderately hot” getting routed in the playoffs every year will do that to you. We’re not talking about the Tony LaRussa A’s here.

      Big names in movies don’t mean anything without a strong story which includes a compelling finish in non-fiction material. Ever hear of Brad Pitt’s “The Mexican”, or Tom Hanks in “Joe versus The Volcano”? Big names mean nothing without a great script, be it fiction or non-fiction.

      • Reflex - Mar 25, 2011 at 9:22 PM

        Always amazing to see just how little you understand about things before your willing to spout off about it. Pretty clear to me that you’ve never read Moneyball. Hint: Its not about winning championships at all, although that is a potential result. Its about finding market commodities(any market, not just baseball) that are underpriced, and exploiting that for an advantage. Thats it.

        Other teams with bigger budgets have taken what the A’s developed and utilized it with great success. The Red Sox are the best known example, but virtually every team uses it to some degree or other. Whether or not the A’s won a World Series is irrelevant. That what they pioneered is valuable is proven every single day by the other 29 teams and how they evaluate talent both in the draft and in free agency.

      • scatterbrian - Mar 25, 2011 at 9:35 PM

        You’re judging a movie you haven’t even seen. How about you see it first?

      • JBerardi - Mar 25, 2011 at 10:37 PM

        Why does “compelling ending” necessarily equate with winning a World Series? Compelling = textbook Disney shlock, I guess?

      • pmcenroe - Mar 26, 2011 at 10:10 AM

        How can you say those A’s were merely “moderately hot”? They had 8 winning seasons in a row, with 5 playoff appearances. Compare that to LaRussa’s A’s who only had 6 winning seasons and 4 playoff appearences. Were the Braves only monerately hot when the won 14 straight divison titles? Also Beane’s A’s lost in Game 5 of the Division Series 4 years in a row. That’s hardly being “routed” as you suggested.

      • IdahoMariner - Mar 26, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        if you are more about winning than absolutely anything else (ie, you lack enough imagination to see anything else valuable about watching baseball)(which, god help you, since having even a .600 or over season isn’t easy and could be justifiably called “rare” for any team), then the A’s in the era covered by the book qualify:

        in 2000, the A’s won 91 games to edge the Mariners for the division title by 1/2 game.
        in 2001, the A’s had the second best record in all of baseball, second only to the Mariners’ historic 116 win season. The A’s record? 102-60.

        in 2002, the A’s tied with New York for best record in baseball, with 103 wins. Their soft division (who apparently just rolled over for them)? Angels were 99-63, Mariners were 93-69. Anaheim got the wild card. Huh.

        in 2003, the A’s were 99-66, with those pansy Mariners at 91-71. wild card went to Boston with a 95-67 record.

        in 2004, the A’s were 91-71 and second in the west, losing out to Boston for the wild card (which Boston finally put to good effect).

        in 2006, the A’s won the division, and swept minnesota to get to the ALCS (where they got swept by detroit).

        from 2000 to 2010, the A’s finished with a record of .543 or better 7 times, had only three losing seasons, and one .500 season.

        in the “anything can happen in a short series” playoffs (which have been cruel to even the dominant Yankees in the 2000s and Braves in the 90s), oakland has made it to the playoffs 5 times in the 2000s, advancing past the division series once by sweeping minnesota, while losing the other 4 times by one game in a five game series.

        It seems like they have mostly offered their fans a sustained streak of winning teams (in a really, really lousy stadium) that took them to the playoffs. I think a lot of teams would be pretty happy with that.

      • IdahoMariner - Mar 26, 2011 at 3:58 PM

        um, Bull Durham. One of the best damn baseball movies ever.

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