Let's see if Rama thought Moneyball hit it out of the park or not. Enjoy his review and make sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
I don’t know if I’d call MONEYBALL a baseball movie because it’s more about the business or the dealings behind it and in that sense, the concept could apply to other sports. Which is great because you don’t have to grow up liking baseball to enjoy MONEYBALL, which by the way is one of the best films of 2011 in my book.
Columbia Pictures, the force behind last year’s smart dialogue film, The Social Network, has done it again, obviously because Sorkin reworked the script. But the film’s comparison to The Social Network may also be a factor, on top of public’s opinion on Pitt’s recent comment about Jen Aniston, that could hurt MONEYBALL’s chances at the box office. That said, this film is funny, it’s engaging, it’s got similar excitement and intensity that you’d usually expect to happen on wall street floor, it’s a different kind of crowd pleaser…
Read my interview with Casey Bond, One of the Stars of Moneyball-
Billy Beane was once a would-be baseball superstar who, stung by the failure to live up to expectations on the field, turned his fiercely competitive nature to management. Heading into the 2002 season, Billy faces a dismal situation: his small-market Oakland A’s have lost their star players (again) to big market clubs (and their enormous salaries) and is left to rebuild his team and compete with a third of their payroll. Driven to win, Billy takes on the system by challenging the fundamental tenants of the game. He looks outside of baseball, to the dismissed theories of Bill James, and hires Peter Brand, a brainy, number-crunching, Yale-educated economist. Together they take on conventional wisdom with a willingness to reexamine everything and armed with computer driven statistical analysis long ignored by the baseball establishment. They reach imagination-defying conclusions and go after players overlooked and dismissed by the rest of baseball for being too odd, too old, too injured or too much trouble, but who all have key skills that are universally undervalued. As Billy and Peter forge forward, their new methods and roster of misfits rile the old guard, the media, the fans, and their own field manager, who refuses to cooperate. Ultimately this experiment will lead not only to a change in the way the game is played, but to an outcome that would leave Billy with a new understanding that transcends the game and delivers him to a new place.
I’m glad this movie got made because a couple of years ago, there were disagreements between Sony and then director Soderbergh and the screenwriter. I can’t recall specifics, but it was somewhere along the line of.. Sony felt that Soderbergh’s approach and Zaillian’s script would result in a film that wouldn’t follow traditional narrative structure of most sports tales therefore the film wouldn’t sell internationally.
Whatever the actual reason was, I can’t help but wonder what MONEYBALL would’ve been like under Soderbergh’s direction. But I enjoyed MONEYBALL way more than I did Soderbergh’s Contagion, both of which opened in this very same season.
Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, real actual General Manager of the Oakland A’s and the story chronicles how he used sabermetric principles to put together a team in the most cost-effective way.
It follows your traditional sports formula of an underdog story, an underdog team, which by the way consists of certain players that most consider rejects and underdogs themselves. And there are moments of triumphs, which are needed when you deal with sports movies, you gotta have those moments that would make you stand up and cheer, so MONEYBALL is not all just dialogue.
But the biggest attraction about MONEYBALL is that even though it is a smartly written film about statistics and scouting players based on more than just gut feeling, it’s also essentially a gambling movie, about a man who’s stubborn and borderline obsessed with this unconventional method. He truly believes in it that he’s willing to put his job on the line, going all in.. all in.
You badly want him to succeed but at the same time this gamble is extremely risky, you wonder if you’re rooting for the right side, perhaps Beane and his compadre, the economist Peter Brand are in way over their heads and somebody needs to bring them back down to reality, the old ways of doing things. That’s what’s exciting about watching MONEYBALL.
I love all the shots in this film, and it’s no surprise because Oscar winning cinematographer Wally Pfister is a reliable quality name. Something about them that could make the film soothing and therapeutic one minute and then passionate the next.
Great performances from all the actors involved. Even Philip Seymour Hoffman who plays just supporting role in this film, brings his A-game and stands his ground.
Jonah Hill proves that he’s as strong in drama as he is in comedy, he could go toe to toe with his Oscar worthy co-stars. I think I enjoy Pitt’s performance in this film than his performances in Benjamin Button, The Tree Of Life, and Inglourious Basterds combined.
I think Pitt brilliantly captures the emotions of a man want this system to work but you can tell that he too has some doubts about it. He’s got a daughter who listens to media mocking her father, he has to deal with the politics in his workplace, an unmotivated team that could care less, a coach who wouldn’t cooperate. One more than one occasion, Pitt would be seen in a car, driving, asking himself ‘what have you done?!’
It this a man who wants to change the game because he’s still upset about not succeeding at being a baseball player when he was young?! What is he trying to prove?! Pitt successfully delivers that certain silent rage, the conflict that consistently runs around Beane’s mind.
In the end, MONEYBALL works because it’s a different kind of underdog sports movie. Even if you don’t know statistics, even if you don’t know the art of trading players, even if you don’t don’t know anything about baseball, MONEYBALL’s themes of loyalty, believing in something even when the whole world is against it. So those themes and so much more would resonate with you.
GRADE: 5 out of 5
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