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September 23, 2011

Billy Beane: There are rich teams, there are poor teams, then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us.

Moneyball is a solid triple base hit. It isn’t quite a home run, but has the right players and the right manager to get the job done. Lets start with the best player, Brad Pitt, who gives a terrific performance here, and is what makes the film so effective. I feel that I must batter-up Jonah Hill, who I thought did a super job transferring from Comedy to Drama and plays his role subtly and professionally. This had such a Social Network feel to it (especially since Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo trailer was before it), since it was written by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian. Learning about Billy Beane has never been more exciting, and director Bennett Miller makes the experience of Moneyball quite exhilarating.

Moneyball is a true story, based on a novel with the same name by Michael Lewis, chronicling the life of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics. At this point in Billy’s life, his team is handicapped with the lowest salary in baseball. To get his team back on top and to the world series, he must find a competitive advantage for his team to win games. So instead of physically training and working with the players, Beane, along with his new assistant Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), they use statistical data to manage the players’ value to guarantee wins, and change the game forever.

First things first; Moneyball is not meant to be for fans of baseball, it may be a tad more beneficial to them, but this is a film for anyone who is at all interested in an inspirational sports film, with Brad Pitt. Moneyball looks fantastic. The cinematography is handled very diligently by Wally Pfister; who does quite a decent job putting the audience in the world of baseball, and all of the game scenes are lighted perfectly and with high intelligence. You can tell a lot of input was put into this, considering this film has been in post-production for quite awhile until it was finally released.

In a film like this, it’s important to keep your audience interested and eager for a second viewing; while it doesn’t quite play well on that second reason, this is a very interesting story. Prior to going into this, I had no knowledge of who Billy Beane was or what he did for the game of baseball (which is generally the tactic I use when going into a film I’m excited about), and judging from the trailers, I thought he was an antagonist. Boy, was I incorrect to make that assumption. Beane is surprisingly a good guy, and it’s time to bring up the man who was Beane, Brad Pitt.

In my opinion, this is probably Pitt’s most contained performance yet. It’s not his best (see Fight Club or Benjamin Button), but it is quite impressive. What makes the atmosphere of his performance unique from all of his other roles is how low-key he played it. I don’t know much about Billy Beane, but it seemed only fitting that Pitt would take on another tough role. Regardless, I still found it low-key and different from his usual bad-ass type roles, which was nice for a change, and I think might be in the running for [another] Academy Award. Aside from Pitt, I enjoyed the performances from Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who were both very effective in their roles.

I wouldn’t classify myself as an avid baseball lover or watcher (I’m a pretty big fan of the Chicago Cubs), but I am known from time to time to tune in to a game. For me, baseball is a bit uninteresting to watch all the way through (one of the many reasons why I was skeptical about seeing this), but I found myself fascinated all the way through Moneyball. It put a “twist” on the game, adding a little Social Network-statistic-type mumbo jumbo in. You also have to admire the chutzpah that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) holds to keep tackling such complex subjects, and succeeding each time.

There was but one fatal flaw that kept me from giving this flick a perfect rating, and that is the replay value. I can’t imagine myself viewing this multiple times, which is odd, because I’ve seen Fincher’s The Social Network 20-30 times tops. Nevertheless, even for an individual viewing, Moneyball is worth seeing due to it’s stellar performances, interesting plot, solid direction, and a magnificent script from Aaron Sorkin. Moneyball is not a home run, but it sure does swing for the fences.

Moneyball = 4 out of 5

9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2011 10:12 pm

    A special Happy Birthday to my favorite person!

  2. October 1, 2011 3:09 am

    I agree with you completely on your review! A great film, surprising feel, great for the non-baseball fans, cast performed well, and not much replay value! I even gave it the same score!

    Glad to see we are on the same page here. Great review! I thought Jonah Hill was super impressive!

    oh, 1 thing I disagree with in your review: the Cubs??? really??

    Go NYY! 🙂

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