Only Aaron Sorkin could take a nonfiction book about the intricacies of
Major League Baseball and statistics and turn it into a crowd pleasing
paean starring Brad Pitt. Any chance he wants to take a look at
And, can I get George Clooney to play me in the movie (even though I
better resemble Daniel
Somewhat based on the true story (you have to wonder how true when one
of the main players in this history refuses
to let his name to be used),
Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane - a former baseball phenom who has gone
on to become the general manager of the Oakland A's. Without the money
big teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox have at their disposal,
Beane has built a team that came within a game of beating the mighty,
World Series winning, legendary Yankees in the playoffs (is it obvious
I am from New York?). However, his top players have been lured away by
big contracts in the offseason, so he has to rebuild with even less
Desperate and realizing the team can't compete the same, traditional
way, Beane becomes interested in the theories of Peter Brand (Jonah
Hill playing the fictional version of Paul DePodesta) - a
knowledgeable, insightful, shy, stats geek who believes you have to
look at players and their stats in a different way to assess their
value and how they can help the team (known as sabermetrics). With a
staff of old time scouts, and a manager, Art Howe (Philip Seymour
Hoffman), who doesn't buy into all of this new fangled thinking, Beane
and Brand have a great deal to prove, or they will lose their jobs.
Will the Oakland A's be able to compete and make the playoffs again?
Have Billy and Peter changed baseball forever?
delivers on the proven without shocking us with any outlandish, out of
left field ideas or scenes. It's good, solid, old fashioned, rousing
Director Bennett Miller wisely allows Pitt to dominate the movie with
his irresistible charisma. He makes Beane into some sort of baseball
svengali who has latched onto a philosophy and is ready to proselytize
to every person he comes across until everyone is on his side. Pitt
gives Beane a California cool demeanor, but allows the intensity and
competitive nature of the guy to shine through at the right time. He's
a combination of cocky and smooth that is likable.
Then, writers Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian deliver the amazing,
easygoing, yet highly entertaining and emotionally impactful dialogue
each is known for. Yes, Moneyball
undeniably feels like an Aaron Sorkin script with the fantastic
exchanges between characters, an energy that drives the story forward
without exerting itself, and moments that would be irritating in the
hands of lesser talents.
Yes, the relationship between Beane and his daughter intentionally
manipulates the audience, but only in short bursts. Sure, we know those
down and out ballplayers no one else wants will become the underdogs
who shock the world and make the audience cheer, but when is not as
obvious as you might think.
It might be lopsided in favor of the new stat-driven Moneyball idea of
how to run a team versus the traditional ways (and, let's not forget,
no team has been able to dominate or even win a World Series in Major
League Baseball without some combination of money, moneyball and
traditional scouting), but I enjoy the chemistry between Hill and Pitt,
even if Hill seems to be holding back too much. Moneyball
is the kind of movie that will engross audience members even if they
don't know the difference between Kevin Youklis and Derek Jeter.
is rated PG-13 for some strong language