Review: Moneyball


The most patriotic and quintessential of all American sports gets yet another big screen outing.

Many a non-American has little understanding of the great nation’s game, but there is something “romantic” about it, and in the telling of the Oakland A’s astronomic rise to relative success, it’s hard for any sports lover, or movie lover to not fall for a story and a game of opinions, imbalanced power and will to succeed against the odds.

Based on a very true story, Moneyball sees The A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) once more at the tail end of a near glorious season were, as a feeder to the big guys, he is left with the frustration of annual restructuring at the loss of star players.  On a relative shoe string, Billy is the finest GM, but money talks in the wide world of sports.

During a pre-season draft campaign of bantering deals with other Major league GM’s, Billy meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) an economics graduate with an eye for analysis who has devised a ‘Moneyball’ system were players are rated on the hard stats of performance without the discrimination of age, reputation or what their girlfriend looks like; a system that may just create a championship winning team from a band of discarded misfits.

As true sporting underdog stories go, there aren’t many better, and in Pitt’s central protagonist a chief harbouring angst towards a sporting system that broke its own youthful promises and a personal mission to fight the power and preserve purity for the game where anyone can, and should succeed.

As a story of the imbalances of professional sports, Billy’s and the A’s tale is superb, mirroring not just baseball’s commercial power but many of the world’s sports, where players are commodities, indispensable one moment and discarded the next.

Billy is the hardball king, his firm approach no doubt the product of the system that has done the same to him when all the talent in the world doesn’t compensate for the most essential sporting ability of going out there and smashing it!

Pitt is superb as the A’s principal, handling the ‘professional’ side of the game of cutting and putting a team to together with clinical remoteness, and in his influencing and controlling of his detracting senior scouts he remains a man certain of his charge, suffering no fools in his mission to change up the game and move away from archaic and intuitive methods which prejudice potential all stars.

Beneath his Hardball persona, Pitt flexibly portrays Billy as a restrained leader of genuine heart with care for the game and love for his daughter Casey (Kerris Dorsey), and in his central collaboration with boffin Peter, an unlikely friendship with a man whose radical approach, and success, gives him kudos to find his place in the most unlikely of arena’s and a platform to challenge Boss Billy and his own restricting fears born from failure.

Hill’s performance is understated too as the geek in a world of sportsmen, whose lateral thinking provided a real world blueprint for budgeted success, Hill bringing his usual likeable comic style of acting, toning down the mayhem to provide a consummate portrayal of a nerd who lacks the physical smarts to play the game, but the genius and foresight to change it.

Moneyball doesn’t throw any curveballs, it’s a straight up, well told story of the glory and despair of professional sports; and without the schmaltz and melodrama of its forerunners, knocks it out of the park to tell an honest and often funny tale of the true nature of one of America’s own greatest sports.

Who thought stats AND Baseball could be so interesting – 8/10 (Baseball fans 9/10)

 

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22 responses to “Review: Moneyball

  1. I think the curveball that Moneyball throws is that its about the back office and not on the field. Like you said, who thought stats could be so interesting? I know that I didnt! LOL

    Hill and Pitt are both excellent here, as you point out.

    • I found it surprisingly gripping in a boffin like way. Gave a real insight into how sport really works and a change from the normal glorified sports ending. Thanks for the comment and the read.

  2. “doesn’t throw any curveballs, it’s a straight up, well told story of the glory and despair of professional sports; and without the schmaltz and melodrama of its forerunners” – this line summed it up for me man. I was surprised how much I liked this. Pitt was superb here but my only criticism would be an underused P.S. Hoffman. Great movie though and excellent write-up bud.

    • glad you liked it and the review, I always try and get some cheesy terms in there that relates to it and i’m proud of that one! Hoffman played a far too stereotypical character for me, could have fleshed it out a bit, but i love Pitt and he was class. Thanks for the read my man!

  3. I really liked this film (and you’re excellent review of course!), and I don’t usually go for sports movies. But as already mentioned, it was more about what happens behind the scenes, which was far more interesting to get an insight in to – i’d rather just watch real sport than sport in a film afterall !!
    Plus I love stats, and was already interested in the system of moneyball because of LFCs owners, so that was the main reason for watching in the first place, but it was good to be pleasantly surprised.

      • Ha.
        I’m dead serious, man. I know people (and I’m sure you can find these people on the net) who think Pitt is nothing but another Hollywood “prettyboy”. Fact is, he’s been starring in a lot of good, often risky, roles in a lot critically-acclaimed movies as of late. And to an extent he’s always been like that. He’s a huge A-lister, so I guess he’s got a rep as some kind of huge moneymaking blockbuster star, but – off the top of my head (because I’m too lazy to check) – I can only think of one series, and that’s the Ocean’s series.

      • i am with you Bruce, i am a fan of Pitt, and he has managed to do exactly as you say, he has done some risky stuff, Twelve monkeys, fight club and for me the most risky Jesse James, simply because he got involved in that for all the right reasons, i f you haven’t seen it, check out my review and watch it! here’s his biography http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000093/ its balanced commercially and artistically and extremely varied and many an actor would sell their soul for a roll like it. Pitt is one of those actors for me right now, who would make me want to see a movie just because he is in it – Yes i am a fan!
        One punch mickey (snatch) awesome!

      • Okay, after some more thought, I remember he was also in Troy (meh), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (bad), and Inglourious Basterds. I don’t know if the last one is a blockbuster, but I guess you could argue it. I still stand by my original assertion though. The guy takes on a lot of serious and/or risky roles which he doesn’t get enough credit for.

  4. I’m not sure what it is about Jonah Hill, but I can’t help watching his movies. I think he is one of those actors you either love or hate. I love him, but some of my co-workers at Dish could care less about him. I watched this movie a while back, but wanted to check it out again since I’m not finding a lot of new movie choices in the theaters. I have a Blockbuster @home account, and I’m moving this to the top of my queue, and will pick this up tonight at my local store without having to wait for it in the mail. I’m one of those people who can watch the same movie over and over, and never get tired of watching it, especially when it stars Brad Pitt ;-).

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