Moneyball, now available On Demand, is based on a true story and the 2003 Michael Lewis book of the same name. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the embattled General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. View trailer.
Facing a tough post-season loss to the New York Yankees in 2001, departing star players (Damon, Giambi & Isringhausen) and an extremely limiting player payroll, Beane must assemble a competitive team for the upcoming season.
On a visit to Cleveland, Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), whose presence in the room is felt when, on his word, a trade deal Beane wants is struck down. Brand, a recent Yale economics graduate, sees the game and evaluates a player’s worth in a completely different way from the establishment. Beane, whose keen understanding of “more of the same” was never going to see his A’s win the last game of the season, takes a chance on the young Ivy graduate and hires him as Assistant GM. Beane and Brand’s method of selecting players alienates them from the rest of the baseball establishment around them, including their own scouts and coaching staff.
Jonah Hill shines as Brand, proving that he can play a real grown up. The movie may be Pitt’s show, but Hill backs him up every step of the way. Phillip Seymour Hoffman gives a great performance in a small role playing A’s head coach Art Howe. A grizzled veteran of the game, untrusting of Brand’s methods and tense about his own upcoming contract renewal, he stands in Beane’s way of seeing the new method play out at every turn, until Beane eventually forces his hand.
At its heart, Moneyball is a story about bucking the system, doing the thing that everyone around you says is crazy, standing your ground and staying the course. It’s also about confronting a system that you know is wrong, even when you yourself benefitted from it. Beane, drafted straight out of high school into the Major Leagues, struggles with his own legacy: a playing career that was a disappointment (at best) and a managing career that is threatening to be labeled the same. Pitt is excellent in this role – charming and convicted about the path he’s now chosen, while remaining a tender father figure to his daughter and a man with a competitive heart for the game he’s devoted his life to.
A little on the light side, Moneyball was entertaining and a really interesting look behind the scenes of a Major League ball club. With Aaron Sorkin’s name on the screenplay, I was expecting a little more from the dialogue. I found the editing to be really beautiful – cutting together Beane’s playing past, his current duties and his internal struggle to find the right thing.
Moneyball has now been nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Brad Pitt), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill), Film Editing, Sound Mixing, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Have you seen Moneyball? Tell us your thoughts!
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