Saturday, September 24, 2011
The greatest achievement of all
Getting me to a movie theater is not easy.
The last movie I ever watched in a movie theater was Kung Fu Panda.
The first one.
And the only reason I saw that movie is because there was only one person on the planet who could get me to sit in a movie theater for an hour and a half.
Between 2002-08, I sat in the theater for dozens of children's films. It's what you do as a young parent. Some of the movies bored me, some mildly amused me, but none truly interested me. I was there for my daughter. That was all.
Nothing else could get me there. Why would I pay a crazy amount of money to stare at a screen for up to two hours, sometimes among ill-behaved fellow spectators for something that really didn't interest me?
You name just about every big movie of the last decade. I haven't seen it.
Even in the comfort of my own home, I can't be bothered to sit for that long and stare at the screen for a movie. Only one thing will get me to sit that long.
I'll stare at a screen -- or a field -- for as long as it takes to see the end of a baseball game. A ball game, to me, is that captivating for that long. A ball game tells the best stories.
And now baseball is doing what only my daughter has been able to do the last 10 years. It's actually making me want to go to the movie theater.
"Moneyball" opened on Friday, and for the first time in I don't know how long -- maybe 15 years? -- I have requested that people join me in going to a movie.
As my wife said, "You never do this."
No, I don't. But I read the reviews. They're all great. And as a movie critic at my workplace said, "Brad Pitt doesn't make bad movies these days." But, most of all, it's a terrific story, and it's intelligent. That's unusual for Hollywood. It's made some awful movies about baseball over the years.
Over the weeks, I have found myself so drawn to this movie that I knew I would hate myself if it came and went and I didn't see it.
Billy Beane's story is one that I can relate to on a smaller scale. I am in charge of providing a vision, a direction for a group of people. It's not easy. There can be a lot of resistance, a lot of fear, a lot of ego and a lot of ignorance. Basically, it's a difficult task, and I spend a lot of time mentally grasping at different components of my job, trying to join them together in way that will move things forward. It's frustrating, and a lot of times I just don't know where to begin.
Beane's and Paul DePodesta's underdog vision appeals to me. It's inspirational. I have a feeling that the friction and resistance that I see in the movie will seem very real to me. And the results that Beane and DePodesta achieve will be almost personally exhilarating.
It's an underdog story, without being cliche.
Plus it's about baseball. It doesn't get any better.
Sure they tweaked the script and it doesn't match the book 100 percent.
And Beane's Oakland A's teams weren't the most successful small-market teams around.
But they spurred on a different way of thinking about evaluating talent and building a team, beliefs alive and well in the game today.
And Beane -- or maybe it's Michael Lewis or Bennett Miller or Jonah Hill -- did something just as amazing to my way of thinking.
They made me want to go see a movie in a movie theater.
I'll be there this weekend. And, for once, I won't be thinking "this is a waste of 10 bucks."
Or whatever it costs these days.
It's been awhile.