Running Time: 133 minutes
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour-Hoffman
Directed By: Bennett Miller
Rating: 7 out of 10
Two men set out to change the face of baseball through the use of mathematics.
I am a lifelong Toronto Blue Jay fan, and it has been a long time since I have been excited about baseball. With the acquisition of some amazing pieces, this year’s Blue Jay team has got some serious World Series potential. So in the honor of baseball being relevant again in Toronto, I decided to review a baseball movie. Based on a true story/book, Moneyball is the story of Billy Beane. He is the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, and is very passionate about the game. His baseball team plays in a small market, and he must find new ways to win against the big money teams. His unorthodox tactics on what players to use could be considered genius, or it could cost him his job in baseball.
This is an interesting film on many levels. It actually plays out like watching a real life baseball game. It is slow and uneventful at times, and then can get super exciting at the drop of a hat. The film introduces us to Billy Beane, as his Oakland A’s team suffers a heartbreaking playoff loss to the New York Yankees. What comes next is even more heartbreaking to Beane. The A’s lose three key players to free agency, and are left scrambling to fill the holes. Moneyball follows the team during the offseason/following season, and it also follows Beane’s personal life (Both present and past.) Adding in Beane’s interactions with his daughter, and adding in his own playing days, actually saves the film from being too baseball/statistic orientated. It humanizes the man, and allows you to appreciate the baseball side of the film even more. In pursuit of finding a solution to their on the field woes, Beane enlists the help of a statistician in Peter Brand. The two of them go on a near impossible mission to break down the traditions of baseball scouting/evaluating. These are deep rooted traditions that have endured for more then a hundred years. People are stubborn, so when you mess with the fundamentals of baseball, you are going to get a lot of negative reactions. The two men must suffer through crippling self doubt and many growing pains, all to test new math formulas in relation to baseball success. The A’s fans, scouts, coaches, owner, and players are all expecting them to fail. It is in all this hatred and cynicism directed towards Beane and Brand, that makes you want them to succeed.
Billy Beane is played by Brad Pitt. This film would not have worked without Pitt steering the helm. He brings a passionate and charismatic persona to the character, and it makes you want him to succeed. He couples himself on screen with stat geek Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill. Hill is known only for comedy, and it is great to see that he holds his own in a dramatic role. His socially awkward mannerisms, fit in nicely with Pitt’s natural bravado so it somehow gels. Pitt and Hill are the unlikeliest of matchups, but they pull it off without any hiccups. A special mention must be made to Philip Seymour-Hoffman, who played Oakland A’s coach, Art Howe. Hoffman, while not on screen for long, adds a nice element of intrigue to a film that desperately needed it. His refusal to stay on a sinking ship added that little extra edge to the movie.
Director Bennett Miller gets my approval on a film that could have easily struggled. People want success stories when it comes to sports, so naturally in a film where everything doesn’t end up perfectly, it is much harder to do. He somehow finds the right pacing, and is able to drag the film through its slower spots by relying on some great dialogue and personable characters. His blending of real life baseball clips with shot baseball footage was a neat idea, and his casting was daring yet sound. He gave this film time to grow and it paid off with a pretty gripping film of David versus Goliath, the baseball edition.
I give this movie a recommendation but especially to baseball fans.
T Factor + If you are intimate with baseball, than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not follow baseball, than this could score way lower on the rating scale.