Moneyball isn’t the first movie about Baseball and it certainly won’t be the last. However, what makes this Oscar-nominated movie stand out from other sports films is the focus on the people behind-the-scenes, instead of the athletes themselves.
As its title suggests, Moneyball focuses on the financial problems that plague a low-budget baseball team, the Oakland Athletics. As their best players are lured away by richer, high profile teams, manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) has to think up new strategies to salvage the future of the underfunded Oakland A’s.
Enter economist Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an advisor for the Cleveland Indians who is largely ignored by the management due to his limited experience in baseball and timid nature. Intrigued by Brand’s theory on how sports teams should stop chasing players based on their individual abilities and start putting together teams based on group statistics, Beane hires the socially awkward 24-year-old to co-manage the Oakland A’s. Unfortunately, Brand’s new formula of success is met with much contempt by the staff, who resist the idea of running a sports team based on coldly-rationed math and statistics.
In many ways Moneyball doesn’t really differ from the formula of your successful sport films. You have your underdog Davids against the larger Goliaths, the conflict between different generations (in this case, the old guard vs. the new statistician), and the rebel hero determined to succeed against all odds. However, armed with a fantastic script and fine performances from its actors, it’s no wonder the movie bagged 6 Oscar nominations, including ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’.
As failed professional baseball player turned manager, Pitt delivers an honest, sympathetic performance as the frustrated Beane, as he deals with his insecurities about the sport while trying to cope with his paternal responsibilities to his daughter. The chemistry between world-weary jock Billy Beane and the bookish new kid Peter Brand lead to some amusing banter and scenes, like Beane teaching Brand how to inform a player he’s no longer on the team (“Would you rather get 1 shot in the head or 5 in the chest and bleed to death?”).
It’s also incredibly fascinating to watch as the characters face off with each other, from Beane and Brand fend off livid staff members to watching the duo wrangle and cheer a team of “undervalued” baseball players who are convinced their time in the sport has come and gone.
Rest assured you don’t have to be familiar with the game to enjoy the movie, as the film deals with problems all sport fans can sympathise with. Based on a true story, Moneyball provides a truly interesting insight to the world of baseball.
Opens: Feb 16
Duration: 135 minutes
Age Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Biography, Sport
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman