Category Archives: Good Movies

What is Moneyball and what the hell is Brad Pitt doing in a baseball movie?

He could talk baseball all night. And you'd listen, right ladies?

Moneyball opens this week and it could be the greatest date movie of all time.

Why? Not only is the entire movie about the intricacies of building a baseball franchise (just slightly below orchestrating a bank robbery in terms of guys’ fantasies) but the builder of said baseball franchise is none other than Achilles himself, Brad Pitt. So if listening to explanations of advanced baseball statistics bores you, at least the one doing the explaining is someone you’ve been fantasizing about since you were in middle school.

But a two hour movie can be tedious so you might as well possess a rudimentary grasp of Moneyball’s premise. Simply, Michael Lewis wrote a 304-page masterpiece about how the Oakland A’s (under Billy Beane’s guidance) revolutionized baseball thinking by relying on advanced statistics rather than eye-ball tests and gut feelings to construct the most efficiently successful team for the least amount of money. Brad Pitt plays the real-life character of Billy Beane, the man in charge of building a baseball team on a Payless Shoes budget.

Yours truly read all 304 pages in one sitting meaning if you want us guys to join your book clubs, don’t make us read The Great Gatsby. We’ll have all 448 pages of Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N’ Roses read and annotated with a literary critique by noon tomorrow if you put it on your book club’s list. But I digress…

Example of Moneyball ? For example, you may feel Channing Tatum is hotter than Justin Timberlake but your friend thinks JT is way cuter. Using the principles of Moneyball you would construct some formula that would take into account Tatum’s abs, tan, and muscles to derive a number that trumps Timberlake. Your friend may come up with a formula that uses JT’s voice, personality, and body of work that defeats your boy Channing. But your mutual braniac third friend combines both formulas and concludes that Justin Timberlake is indeed hotter than Channing Tatum.

Quick, clean, and no more debate. Moneyball helps baseball managers rate players more accurately than ever before and aids journalists in predicting what may happen. These statistics have relatively accurate predicting power so one can reasonably understand how a baseball player and team will perform next year. Imagine being able to reasonably predict how Justin Bieber’s next year will go compared to Bruno Mars based on statistics?

Lastly, these statistics help baseball fans compare players from many years ago to the players of today. You keep hearing how good-looking Paul Newman was, but all you really know about Paul Newman is that he’s the guy on the salad dressing bottles. But with Moneyball statistics, you could derive a formula that rates Newman in his prime better looking than today’s Matt McConaughey taking into account the fact that Newman probably thought buttered steak and beer were healthy and McConaughey has been on an insane workout program and hasn’t had a carb since Contact.

Regardless of how you feel about baseball (ok, I know you think it is boring) you should be a good sport and invite your guy to see Moneyball. Worst case you can stare at Brad Pitt and munch on Mike & Ike’s and if it really isn’t what you like, tell him to get you some popcorn because after all, no guy has ever refused a concessions request at a movie theater. Enjoy the movie and enjoy the treats!

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Filed under Baseball, Brad Pitt, Dating, Food, Good Movies, Moneyball, Numbers

Movie Review: Days of Thunder

Days of Thunder is a peculiar movie about NASCAR that came out in 1990. It is peculiar because it is horribly inaccurate and the racing scenes will make any NASCAR fan cringe, but the story itself and the various acting performances make this particular film the type of movie you watch ’til the end no matter what scene you jump into or what you have planned later that day.

The incomparable Tom Cruise stars in this film as Cole Trickle (amazing NASCAR name) which means you will be treated to a couple of running scenes, some shouting, and plenty of close-ups of Cruise mugging for the camera. I am of the opinion that Cruise has never made a bad movie but then again, I have not seen Valkyrie. Robert Duvall, accompanied by a borderline cheesy southern accent, plays Cruise’s crew chief which is a lot like a coach. Randy Quaid is the owner hell-bent on creating the perfect team to win championships. Cary Elwes of Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Saw 1 (ya, he’s talented, but those are probably the only movies you know) and Michael Rooker (really nothing you probably have seen unless you think Slither or The Sixth Day are cool) play Cruise’s main rivals, always trying to run him off of the road.

Deserving of her own paragraph, is Nicole Kidman. She plays the head-trauma doctor assigned to treat (I can’t tell you, it would ruin the movie!!!). Anyway, she is Cruise’s love interest marking the first time the one-time couple were on screen together. I am not a Kidman fan, but she is angelic in this movie, partly because she keeps the Australian accent. Being a doctor, she is always bossing Cruise around (she really is like a foot taller than him, it is a lot like a kindergarten teacher addressing an unruly student).

The plot is not complex: Cruise is hired to drive for a new team. He struggles mightily. He gets better, a lot better. He suffers a severe setback (Talladega Nights style). He comes back. And he… (99.9% of fictional sports movies end the same way with the good guy winning, except for Little Big League and Bad News Bears which will be written about in the future). Talladega Nights basically copied the rise and fall and rise plot of Days of Thunder, but just added more humor and Will Ferrell in his underwear.

Days of Thunder is a good movie with some intense racing action, a few well-written lines, and some chick flick scenes. While this movie will not win any awards (it actually won the BMI Film Music Award and was nominated for an Oscar for best sound), it is thoroughly enjoyable. Cruise may not be shirtless for 384 minutes like in Top Gun, but any movie with the diminuitive star from 20 years ago can’t be all bad, right ladies?

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Filed under Auto Racing, Good Movies

Movie Review: Major League

Major League (1989) is a simple, formulaic movie centering on an aweful baseball team (the Cleveland Indians) and their meteoric rise to elite status as they attempt to make the playoffs.  While it won’t take a Ph.D. in film study to figure out what happens, this movie is in every guy’s top 50, most guys’ top 25, and this guy’s top 10.  The baseball scenes are terrific, the acting is great for a sports movie, and the cast is funny throughout.

Speaking of the cast, Tom Berenger plays the washed up catcher (that’s the guy who wears all the gear and sits behind the plate), a young Wesley Snipes (circa when he paid his taxes) plays centerfielder “Wille Mays Hayes” and Charlie Sheen plays the flame-throwing pitcher (Sheen actually was offered a scholarship to play for the Kansas Jayhawks). Playing Berenger’s love interest is the always sultry Rene Russo.

Major League is by no means a chick-flick with a great love story, but the scenes with Berenger trying win back Russo are well-acted and have more passion than anything Titanic or The Notebook have to offer (just kidding, got your attention though and the chick-flick scenes are decent actually).

The humor stems from the idea that the team is a rag-tag group of misfits, has-beens, never wases, and rejects. Among those characters are voodoo believing Pedro Cerrano (the black president from 24 and the guy from the Allstate commercials), a Bible-thumping over-the-hill pitcher, a prima-donna third baseman who refuses to play hard, a grizzled old manager, and the cold as ice owner hell-bent on moving the team to Miami. Bob Uecker plays the foul-mouthed play-by-play radio commentator and steals every scene he is in.

As the losses begin to pile up, the team digs deep and starts to win. The New York Yankees thoroughly embarassed the Indians early in the season, and it is poetic justice that the Yankees would be standing in their way during the final showdown. No spoilers here, you just have to go out and enjoy Major League. You will learn some baseball, laugh like crazy, enjoy a little romance, and learn why a pitcher would cover his hand in Vaseline and put chili peppers up his nose.

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Filed under Baseball, Good Movies