(above : evidence that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is fully qualified to tackle any sports-related role)
The feature-length movie adaptation of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” opens this Friday, and while the least favorite baseball tome of Joe Morgan and Tracy Ringolsby would seem an unlikely candidate for a film drama with comedic overtones, Hardball Talk’s Aaron Gleeman reports the finished product
never would’ve been made were it not for that cornball ‘The Blind Side’ is aided immeasurably by Brad Pitt being granted “plenty of chances to contemplatively stare off into the distance while rubbing his stubble.” But who cares about Brad Pitt in 2011? Let’s instead focus on the only thing a Mets fan might wanna know — how do Paul De Podesta and Art Howe come off?
Jonah Hill is the movie’s second lead and plays the A’s assistant general manager, which is a position that Paul DePodesta actually held at the time of the Moneyball book. DePodesta reportedly refused to let the movie use his name and it’s easy to see why, as the “Peter Brand” character out-weighs him by about 150 pounds and is essentially the stereotypical stat-head, whereas DePodesta played both baseball and football at Harvard and had a completely different and less cliched backstory.
Which isn’t to say Hill’s fictional character isn’t likable, because he carried much of the movie and provided most of the comic relief as the chubby numbers guy thrust into a prominent job that’s way out of his element initially. Pitt and Hill work very well off each other and Parks and Recreation co-star Chris Pratt has some good moments as Scott Hatteberg, although the portrayal of the 14-year big-league veteran veered too close to Rudy Ruettiger territory at times.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays manager Art Howe and is given by far the most thankless role of the movie, essentially serving as the villain to Beane’s hero. Howe’s relationship with Beane was far from ideal and he left the A’s following back-to-back 100-win seasons, but it’s hard to imagine the actual Howe being as stubborn and difficult as Hoffman’s version. Beane’s character needed roadblocks and frequent conflict, and Howe did little beyond serving that role.