Mike Kueber's Blog

April 29, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #24 – Falling Down and Moneyball

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 5:03 am
Tags: , , , ,

Falling Down is almost 20 years old and on its surface it is reminiscent of the Dirty Harry movies.  But it holds up much better than those movies because the protagonist (Michael Douglas) comes across as a modern-day conservative doing battle against the liberal secularists who are destroying his world.  Robert Duvall co-stars as the policeman who has the responsibility for stopping Douglas’s war on society.  Both Duvall and Douglas are excellent.  Rachel Ticotin is also noteworthy as Duval’s fellow officer, and her emotional connection with Duvall is eerily similar to the connection of Duvall and Diane Lane in Lonesome Dove.  As a lover of all things Lonesome Dove, that is no small compliment.  The Rotten Tomato critics gave Falling Down a 73% grade and its audience gave it 79%.  I agree with the audience and give it three and a half stars out of four.

Moneyball is a new movie (2011) starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman that is based on a best-selling 2003 book of the same title.  The story revolves around the general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) of the cash-starved Oakland A’s baseball team in 2002 attempting to keep up with its big-spending rivals such as the Boston Red Sox and, especially, the New York Yankees.  With necessity being the mother of invention, Beane attempts to pull off this feat by relying on innovative statistics instead of intuition and judgment to evaluate baseball players.

The key to sabermetrics is a belief that you should evaluate a player, not on intangible, subjective skill sets, but rather on his ability to generate wins, which depend on his ability to produce runs (for position players).  Based on the success of the A’s, sabermetrics has spread throughout the sporting world.  In essence, it is very similar to Graham and Buffett’s approach to investing – so-called value investing in which the buyer searches for stocks (players) that are not adequately valued.  With sabermetrics, a team can produce the same amount of wins for less money or more wins for the same amount of money.

Moneyball is an outstanding movie because it is a great story and because of Pitt’s great acting.  You can’t help but be rooting heartily for him to succeed.  Although Kerris Dorsey has only a small role as Beane’s daughter, she is very much responsible for giving this movie a huge amount of emotional appeal.  The movie was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and Pitt for the Best Actor Oscar, but neither won.  The Rotten Tomato critics loved Moneyball to the tune of 94%; the audience not so much – 87%.  I can’t quite give it four stars because there wasn’t enough romance in it, but it was a strong three and a half stars.

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