So. It's out. Officially. Even though I know a number of people have already seen it, it's now FOR REALZ in the theaters. And therefore, you should come in here and discuss it. There are spoilers here. Lots of spoilers. If you don't want to be spoiled, go somewhere else.
Y'all knew I'm the kind of girl that would be there at midnight. It was so incredible to walk into a theater and be surrounded by fellow A's fans, dressed in their usual game fare -- jerseys and hats and beads everywhere. And chanting. And even the wave, which can be forgiven (this time).
It's a movie about the A's. So yeah, I loved it.
I knew going in that there was no way they'd be able to make it like the book -- that was obvious. I was fairly happy with how they streamlined it, focusing just on the Billy Beane thread with only bits of all the lovely little stories that Michael Lewis had branching off of it. It saddens me to lose all the little moments that I love so much -- Hatty fielding tennis balls hit by his wife, Bradford's backstory, Beane's Swisher infatuation, Jeremy Brown getting the call about being drafted. A necessary evil, but it still worked for me.
The thing that makes me happiest? The fact that I have never seen anything so beautiful as the grey concrete of the Coliseum stretched out on the screen. People may think our park is ugly, but I find her... lovely, in her own way. So many films don't have the luxury of their actual local being used (see: Coach Carter, where Richmond looks like LA, because it is). The fact that Oakland is so clearly stamped across the visuals of the film? Made it feel as much like a love letter to A's fans as a movie.
And speaking of visuals, there is a reason Wally Pfister has shiny awards. Oh my god, I think this is the... prettiest looking baseball movie ever. I would have loved more of the swanky game footage. And I looooovelovelove how they wove in the archival footage, it was WAY more than I expected and it threw me straight back into 2002.
I was concerned going in that when Hatty hit that HR (THAT IS THE BIG SPOILER, GUYZ), that I'd start to cry. And I didn't have to worry about that, not really. ...'Cuz the tears started streaming down my cheeks during Game #18. (Oops)
I wish it had more Chris Pratt. He is so good as Hatty, it needed a little more. And maybe some Mecir. And while I get why they cut the draft scene, since getting into all the exposition about the draft picks would be a LOT, but it's my favorite bit in the book. The Rincon phone convo sort of conveys about Billy what the draft does, the thrill of the chase, but... not enough.
The pacing seemed... okay, slow, but I kind of got into it. I saw a reviewer point out that it's similar to the pacing of a baseball game, and it's true. It's kind of slow and chill without actually stopping, and with moments of excitement that rise and fall quickly. And it gave me time to look at all the little things in the background, the bits and pieces that just made it authentic. It could have cut a little more early and stretched out the season a little more, gave us more of a taste of game #19, more of the progress of Hatty into a serviceable 1B. Maybe "Peter Brand" trying to get Youk off Billy if he leaves.
For all the mass media has been huffing and puffing about how this movie is badly timed, about it being a failure based on the fact that the 2011 A's are -- screw that. Seeing it, I think, reminded me of exactly WHY it's good that it's released now. Sure, it would have been AMAZING had this come out a few years ago, saaay... after the 2006 season. With the first round monkey off our back, and the team that should have failed without Hudson and Mulder making it there, the Moneyball boys of Swisher and Blanton a part of it. That would have been some MAGIC right there.
But this way... I think it's a reminder. That no matter what the 2011 A's do, it doesn't diminish how special and magical that 2002 team was. That just because everyone else will judge you for losing that last game of the season, doesn't mean that the season vanished, that the story wasn't there, that their judgement even matters. Those early 2000 squads were something pretty unique, and I'm thankful for Moneyball reminding me of that. Nothing that happened this season can take away from that.
So c'mon, AN. A lot of you are seeing it today, if you haven't already.. What did you think? Is Brad going to get his Oscar? Are you gonna see it again? Is Kyli going to have to hide in Chris Pratt's bushes with a pair of binoculars?
EDIT: Hey, critics seem to like it! Yay!
The NY Times have a few ish with it, but seem rather positive.
The Contra Costa Times/Mercury News/Whatever Else conglomerate gives it 4 stars and are so in love with it.
Peter Hartlaub at the SF Chronicle didn't like it, the lone dissenting voice, but given that he doesn't know who Grady Fuson is, nor the existence of our former sometimes-broadcast home of KICU TV 36, I'm not sure I care.
Even the Boston Herald likes it.