From a filmmaker's point of view, the film is first rate all the way - from the pace and direction (which only occasionally fails to *ahem* keep its eye on the ball), to the seamless interspersion of archival film with the actors on the field as well as voiceovers from the guys actually announcing some of the contests (local Oakland broadcasters Greg Pappa and Glenn Kuiper). The film also has three terrific performances at its core as well as several wonderful bits of natural acting in small bit parts which make so many scenes seem as if you are really in the room as these career baseball scouts discuss the makeup of next season's team.
The story, in case you are interested in such things, is simple and yet full of backstory which mirrors the great game itself. The small budget Oakland A's just took the mighty NY Yankees to the point of elimination in the playoffs. So of course the Yankees offer insane amounts of money to Oakland's best players, knowing that Oakland can't match their offer. Then the other bully in the league, Boston, gets into the act and so the carefully crafted team of A's general manager Billy Beane has been effectively gutted by the large payroll east coast teams.
Rather than give up, Beane decides upon a radical plan that defies conventional baseball logic. It is this plan and its underdog aspects that are really what this film is about - how a new and different perspective can be met with skepticism by the established order, and how those shrewd enough to understand and accept it are therefore a leg up on the dinosaurs who don't.
The beautiful script, co penned by Steve Zallian and Aaron Sorkin, ably explores these deeper undercurrents while at the same time ratcheting up the tension of a real baseball season, subtly reminding us why this particular one is so important to the players involved.
Brad Pitt portrays Billy Beane, and he absolutely owns the role. Totally in the moment throughout the film, this is a masterful Oscar worthy work. The totally natural way he and co-star Jonah Hill work off of each other makes you totally forget that you are watching actors portraying characters. The same can be said for the understated performance of Seymore-Hoffman as the A's manager - the script does a beautiful job of shorthand in the verbal jousting between he and Beane; a terrific example of less often being more.
In a way you can call this a biopic, as it is based on a non fiction book. I know the sequence of events is certainly true, and can even tell you where I was when Hatteberg hit that dramatic home run that put Oakland in the record books (I was gigging at a sports bar that had the game going on a big screen tv). Many have said that this film belongs in the Parthenon of great sports films - but really, while it is about sports on the surface, it is the undercurrent story of human will and heart that make this film a winner.
Based on the aforementioned book of the same name, this is the true story of how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, with the help of an Ivy League educated economist defied conventional wisdom and the system by using stats and outside the box thinking to create a successful baseball team on a meager budget during their 2002 season.
Despite having a very limited budget, Beane (Brad Pitt) and economist Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) discovered that they could theoretically have a winning team by focusing on players with records of high on base percentages. There's a but more to it, and the movie is great at making everything understandable, and yeah, this gamble did pay off, and for better or worse, did change the game of baseball.
To help make such dry seeming material more accessible and entertaining, the film does focus on the human element a lot as well, mostly the relationship between Beane and his young daughter, and little bit on Beane and his ex-wife, as well as some flashbacks which flesh out why Beane is the type of manager and thinker he is.
This is definitely a sports drama, but it's not really a baseball movie, at least not in the conventional sense. Most of the focus is on the behind the scenes stuff, with many, many, many scenes of talking, but there's some game footage too, although a lot of it is in the form of stock footage from various audio and video archives. How they are edited into the rest of the film is one of the areas where the movie really shines.
There's creative editing, sound design, and some excellent cinematography that really make this world come alive. It's all very low key, yet quite striking, too. This is some really effective and groundbreaking direction, and it might have really been the best possible way to adapt the material. The performances are also quite nice too, with Pitt bringing a great sense of wisdom and experience to the role, and Jonah Hill (pre-weight loss) really shining in a superb dramatic turn. He's treaded dramatic territory before, but it's here where he really gets his feet wet, and he does so without a hint of drowning. Hoffman is also good as the field manager, but he could have been used a little more.
Despite all this wonderful stuff, which also includes a high degree of realism and accuracy, the film isn't totally flawless. It is fairly long, and rather slow at times, and while this wasn't really a problem with me, it could be for others. Given that this is a period piece, it is to the film's credit that it remains gripping even if the ending is known, but the film does tend to play up the underdog aspect of things maybe a little too much a bit too often.
Aside from that though, this unlikely adaptation, like the story it's about, proves to be quite a success.
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Question: Did you ever have an idea that is absolutely insane but you know deep in your soul it will work? Sure, nearly every one around you knocks you down especially when the idea doesn't take off right away. However, you stick to your guns and eventually there is some sort of payoff. In a nutshell - that is Moneyball - the latest Brad Pitt film.
Well, I saw Moneyball yesterday, but I will admit that I was unsure about seeing it until someone asked me about it. It is not my normal genre to see, a sports film, but I was pleasantly surprised at the moral of the story. I felt a deep connection to it somehow. Currently, I am delving into a dream of becoming a professional movie reviewer; however, my style of reviewing is not the norm. Success has not arrived...yet. Being a certain age or having some wisdom I realize struggle is part of dreaming and nothing is going to stop me from obtaining my goal.
So, if you have ever had a dream - even a crazy one - you should see Moneyball.
This isn't a typical baseball tale. The story is not about achieving absolute greatness either. That only happens in the movies, and with that, so often it skews our realities when we pursue our dreams. It was completely refreshing to see a story with a real outcome. Of course, it is based on the true story of the 2002 Oakland A's and how the General Manager, Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), tried something completely radical to improve the team. Is this the full reality of what happened? I cannot answer that.
I can tell you I was unaware of how the business of baseball worked but got a crash course with this movie. Some baseball teams have deep pockets while others have mere pittance to put their team together. That detail was surprising to learn and the Oakland A's, apparently, had the bottom of the barrel type of budget. So, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), found a young Yale graduate (Jonah Hill) who devised a mathematical scenario for a winning season. As I said it was a radical approach. However, those two believed in this new theory, called Moneyball, but discovered roadblocks left and right.
Brad Pitt played the ex-baseball player turned general manager. This was not a typical character for him and I rather enjoyed the performance. Some are even buzzing about nominations. Now there were no elaborate pep-talks with an emotional melody playing in the background or even an overwhelming breakdown moment that the Academy usually looks for to nominate. He was just a man who loved baseball and his team and wanted to....wait! I can't tell you that. You have to see for yourself.
I won't say anymore about the story but know this is not a fast paced movie. I should also say it is not a typical underdog story either. There was some humor in Moneyball that I wasn't expecting especially between the two lead actors. In fact, I was grinning for almost the entire movie. But I will say towards the end I had some mixed emotions. You will just have to see for yourself to understand what I mean.
Moneyball is worth the price of the ticket. You might want to grab your kids (PG-13) to show them a tale of someone who pursues a dream despite the obstacles.
My favorite part: The scenes between Brad Pitt's and Jonah Hill's characters. Oh, and when the daughter sings in the guitar store.
My least favorite: Perhaps towards the end when my emotions kept going back and forth of liking then not liking then liking, etc..at what was happening.
Length: 133 minutes
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pitt, too old to be the beautiful trickster of his youth but too young for the movies George Clooney makes, stars as Billy Beane, general manager for the Oakland A's and the living embodiment of why it's not always a good idea to go with your gut. Beane is trying to rebuild his champion level team while not having the money or juice to do so. He's the kind of man for which great things were expected but never came. He gets sneered out of the Cleveland ball club when he comes recruiting and has to fight much harder than he should to convince his daughter that he's not the loser everyone else tells her he is. He's under tremendous pressure and he takes out on his portable radio and whatever else isn't nailed down but he rarely raises his voice to anyone. He spends hours alone in his car trying to suck down all the anger and self-doubt and bury it under a wincing smile. He does what we all do to varying degrees of success which is to imitate the impossible image we all had of our fathers when we were thirteen. Pitt has never been as closed off as he is in Moneyball but he's also never been this clearly expressive. You're with him for every minute of the film like you're with every outfielder that missed a critical line drive.
Bennett Miller pulls off the quite the magic trick with this film, perfectly capturing the feeling of baseball while showing as little of it as possible. Moneyball isn't a film vibrant green infields, searing flood lights and solemn glory of the game. He films everything at a distance, in slow motion with naturalistic lighting. Everything feels pastoral and subdued. Miller knows that baseball isn't a sport to be cut like a noise pop music video. It's a game of sustained silences and gradual reversal. Miller never allows the wave of good feeling that comes with a record breaking winning streak to wash over you but he does hammer home the sinking feeling that comes with watching an easy win turn into a fight for dear life. His is an unpretentious, humane style that's well suited for the material and with Moneyball Mille has made a masterpiece of withholding.
There are no legends in Moneyball, just damaged, stoic men doing the best they can in a midrange ball club. Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt stands out as a Scott Hatteberg, a pitcher who lost his arm and must adjust to life as a fight baseman. Pratt's character is a man who has been so devastated by the loss of his defining attribute that he barley trusts himself to breath. His overwhelming fear is fascinating as is Miller decision to keep his redemptive arc off screen. Stephen Bishop as former star outfielder David Justice is good as the film's Doubting Thomas. He distrusts Beane's radicalism and autocratic distance. When he and Pitt finally have their reckoning, Bishop shines by underplaying the scene. He never goes for the high note and the film is mature enough to allow him to be wrong and to keep his pride. Philip Seymour Hoffman is almost wasted as A's coach Art Howe, the closest the film comes to having a standard issue archetype. He resists the change Pitt wants to bring to team to the point of light mutiny. He represents the old way, the received wisdom of two hundred years of determining a man's worth by the way he carries himself and Hoffman is too good an actor to let his underwritten part define his performance. The film's script by Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zillian, while not without its grace, shows its greatest weakness in it its inability to give the other side of the debate a solid argument. Jonah Hill, as a composite character nominally based former A's assistant GM and noted saber metrics practitioner Paul DePodesta, who's cast against type as a smart man who is neither bitterly angry nor cuttingly clever, is thoroughly dull since the only thing he can play convincingly is bitterly angry or cuttingly clever.
Moneyball isn't ever going to be one of the greats. It's too cerebral and measured (as seen in its awkwardly assembled trailers) to build a cult around and too unabashedly romantic too be rallied around by critics. It's a movie of fine, deeply felt performances and unassuming weight. It's a film of almosts and never was and has more in common with a folk ballad than a stadium shaker. It's the kind of film to show your children if you want to show them while winning isn't everything, it's one of the most important things or if you want to give them a glimpse into what defined the American male persona in the early 21st century.
Based on the true story of financially crippled baseball team, the Oakland Athletics and their general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who tried to hold them all together. In order to make a winning team with no money, he had to change the sport. To do this, he enlisted the help of smart young analyst Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) and attempted to use a new formula of computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.
How this film manages to maintain your interest - with constant boardroom discussions and talk of Baseball statistics - is testament to everyone involved. Miller's direction is low-key, adding an almost documentary feel; Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin's screenplay is full of natural dialogue and Pitt's central performance is subtly brilliant. This doesn't rely on special effects - or even on the game itself that much - to entertain. It relies on a basic story well told. The formula of sports films are left far behind for this fly-on-the-wall approach to the business side of sport. There's no players pointing to the sky before knocking the ball out of the park: there's no clock ticking as the underdog tries to overcome the big-hitters. Well, in some cases you could say this happens. But it happens less on the park and more in the offices and boardrooms of the backroom staff. This inevitably leads to talking. Lots of talking. But thankfully, the cast are more than up for the challenge. Pitt (in an Oscar nominated turn) is an actor that has grown in the maturity of his recent roles and handles the difficult role of Billy Beane to perfection. The normally profane Jonah Hill (also Oscar nominated) is effectively reserved and even Philip Seymour Hoffman, in a vastly underwritten role, manages to speak a thousand words with his expressions alone. The only downside it had was it's over-length. At over two hours long, it's hard to maintain your concentration with a film that is primarily concerned with number crunching. However, most of the time does, surprisingly, fly by.
An unconventional sports film that focuses on a side of the game that is rarely addressed. In our current financial climate, this has been released at just the right time.
The success in "Moneyball" comes down to its finesse and intricate screenplay. Very well written. This is the most multilayered role Brad Pitt has had in a long time. You see his battles with his internal struggles through simple yet effective facial jerks and expressions. You see frustration and joy in what he does. Brad Pitt proves, once again, that he has earned his stardom through his great acting performance.
"Moneyball" is a must watch. It may seem like a movie for only baseball enthusiasts but make no mistake, it is a highly engaging and entertaining movie for any person that enjoys drama.
Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, a washed up baseball player who was scouted at a young age to be the next biggest name in baseball. It didn't work out, but his knowledge of the game landed him a job as the general manager for the Oakland Athletics, a struggling franchise with the lowest payroll in all of Major League Baseball. Pitt's performance here is subtle. He gives this character so much development, but because this is a movie mainly set in boardrooms and baseball dugouts, Pitt's added nuances are most likely to go over the audience's head. But that's supposed to happen because the movie wants you to identify with Billy's struggle to deliver a winning team against much opposition.
Jonah Hill is Pitt's supporting man and this is quite possibly Hill's first non-comedic role. He plays Peter Brand, a young sports analyst who is developing a theory on evaluating players. This theory uses statistics and a bunch of mathematical algorithms to accurately reflect a player's ability to perform what is asked of him. Using these principles, Peter and Billy attempt to completely re-configure the Athletics, and in doing so, not only changed the way players' stats are read, but they delivered the Athletics to one of their best season performances in years.
Moneyball will work best on sports fans and business people. The language and the dialogue reflect an atmosphere of discussions, thinking, analyzing, and meetings. It shows a side to the sport that is rarely captured in the movies. So many sports films are about the players and how they overcome obstacles to score the winning points and be holstered up to the many cheers by their fans and teammates. Yet Moneyball is about different kinds of people overcoming similar obstacles. The difference is that their hard work is rewarded with hand shakes and contract renewals, while the players enjoy the glory. Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillan have written a wonderful screenplay, Pitt and Jonah give wonderful performances alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright, and Bennett Miller delivers another great film. Moneyball is a solid home run.