TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME
Review by Patrick Garland
So I’m wondering…..does Brad Pitt deserve an Oscar nod for his portrayal of baseball mastermind Billy Beane in “Moneyball”? Probably not. He gives a nice performance, but this is typical Brad Pitt. Charming, easy on the eye, and pretty much just being Brad Pitt. Does Jonah Hill deserve an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Peter Brand, a young Yale economics grad with radical ideas on baseball? Definitely not. He gives a nice performance but this is typical Jonah Hill. He’s Goofy, not so easy on the eye, and pretty much being Jonah Hill. I guess I just don’t get the whole Jonah Hill thing. He does the same thing in every film to various degrees. I just think he is kind of like watching soccer. Boring. No my friends, these two performances didn’t do it for me.
What really struck me after watching “Moneyball” is that baseball has an evil entity on the loose. Someone filled with nothing but pure darkness. His name – Art Howe. You see, I grew up a Houston Astros fan. I am still to this day a Houston Astros fan. Art Howe is a former Astro player and manager. I loved watching him play when I was a kid. I thought he was a good manger for the Astros. But in this film we learn the truth – Art Howe is a complete S.O.B.! I mean you hate him when you watch this film. I think the guy who deserves the nomination in this film is Philip Seymour Hoffman. From the first few moments you see him in the movie you just want to jump through the screen and punch this guy in the face. We hate you Art Howe! You’re a complete tool! Wait a minute…..I like the real Art Howe. He always seemed kind of cool to me growing up. Hollywood and Philip Seymour Hoffman have made me hate one of my boyhood baseball heroes. That is not an easy thing to do. They need to give an honorary Oscar to Hoffman for pulling that one off.
The Plot of this one is pretty simple. Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, Played by Brad Pitt, is looking for a new way to be competitive with a small market baseball team. He doesn’t have the money to compete with the Yankees or Red Sox so he has to be just a little smarter. So with the help of whiz kid Brand, played by Jonah Hill, they come up with a new way to evaluate talent when drafting or trading for players. Their system is seen as non-traditional to the team’s scouts and its evil manager Art Howe. Art Howe…I hate him so much. I heard a rumor that Art Howe is actually not human but is really that demon from “The Exorcist”. It’s been said he can turn his head completely around in the dugout. Wait, I’m getting off track here. Anyway, turns out Beane and Brand’s system works and the A’s go back to the playoffs with their team of nobodies and wannabes. Way to go underdogs! And there is also a subplot involving Beane and his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter that really doesn’t go anywhere. It also reminded me of soccer. Boring.
Look, here’s the deal. I’m a baseball guy. I get that Beane tried new stuff with his system and that some of it worked very well. Good for him. But the movie would have you believe that this was a team with no stars except for maybe David Justice who is portrayed in the film by actor Stephen Bishop. In reality, the 2002 A’s had a lot of big names such as Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, and Jermaine Dye. You may ask – wait a second non believer – they traded away Carlos Peña – didn’t that take guts? That was really going against the grain wasn’t it? Well, no not really. In the real world, Carlos Peña was in actuality a complete underperformer until he showed up in Tampa Bay, blew up into a star several years later, and won the AL comeback player of the year in 2007. In my humble opinion, the A’s starting rotation, which was already in place before the “moneyball” system started, had much more to do with their success in those years than anything else. But hey, whatever, Billy Beane is a genius and Brad Pitt deserves an Oscar for showing how smart he was. I just think if he was really that smart he would have taken that job for the Red Sox.
I give “Moneyball” two stars. Mainly because this film taught me one very important thing….. Art Howe is evil. Really evil. At least that’s the way I see it.