In a Nutshell: Based on a true story, this smart sports movie hits a home run. The heavy-hitting cast includes Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman (I miss him), Robin Wright, and Chris Pratt.
"Adapt or die." - Billy Beane (Brad Pitt)
"How can you not be romantic about baseball?" - Billy
"I'll change the game. I want it to mean something." - Billy
Baseball is about people, not statistics.
"There is an epic failure going on in the game to understand what is going on." -Peter Brand (Jonah Hill)
Things I liked:
Director Bennett Miller uses interesting camera angles to help you "see" things differently. He also jumps from the roar of the crowd to complete silence to help you "feel" things differently.
Writer Aaron Sorkin is a master at quick-talking deals and clever wit. Some of the dialogues are simply hysterical.
Brad Pitt gives a stirring performance, even though most of the time he is snacking on something or chewing gum.
You hear the voice of sports announcers Bob Costas and Tim McCarver.
Things I didn't like:
At times the flashbacks get jumbled up with the present day and break up the flow of the story.
I hate it when brilliant, visionary protagonists get away with being jerks. For example, Billy is constantly pushing over desks and throwing chairs in tantrums.
If you're not a baseball fan, you might be a little bored at first and not understand some of the references to legends and players. Keep watching.
"I'm not going to fire you." - Billy
"F-You!" - Grady Fusion (Ken Medlock)
"Now I am." - Billy
"Who's Fabio?" - John Poloni (Jack McGee)
"That sounds like fortune cookie wisdom to me, Billy." - Grady
"No, that's just logic." - Billy
"I asked you to do 3 evaluations. How many did you do?" - Billy
"47. Actually, 51. I don't know why I lied just then." - Peter
"Do you want me to speak?" - Peter
"Yeah, when I point at you." - Billy
"It's not that hard. Tell him, Wash." - Billy
"It's incredibly hard." - Ron Washington (Brent Jennings)
"Good meeting. Every time we talk, I'm reinvigorated by the love of the game." - Billy, sarcastically to Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
"What's your biggest fear?" - David Justice (Stephen Bishop)
"A baseball being hit in my general direction." - Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt)
"No. Seriously." - David
"Seriously, that's it." - Scott
"When you get the answer you're looking for, hang up."
"You may not look like a winning team, but you are one. So, play like one tonight."
"Is losing fun? Then what are you doing having fun?"
Tips for parents:
2 F-bombs. Wait, this is PG-13 movie, right? According to the MPAA, PG-13 movies are only allowed 1 F-bomb, unless a vote earns a two-thirds majority saying it's ok to have more. Lame.
There's a scene where a baseball player starts to take his pants down and dances on a table, but you don't see anything.
It's actually a really safe movie for kids, although they may be a bit bored with all of the talk of statistics and economics of the game.
If you're a baseball fan this is a must see, and even if you're not this is the kind of movie that could turn you to be interested in the sport in the same way "Sideways" made people interested about wine.
The Oakland Athletics lost three great players in Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen to free agency. General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) can't get an increase in his payroll to sign big players. The scouts are all quite older than Beane, they are trying to replace those players using the same techniques that have failed before when valuing a player. Beane knows that firsthand. In a flashback, he was scouted by the New York Mets and touted as a five-tool player. These scouts say this is a once in a time opportunity and he has to go all out if he wants a shot in Major League Baseball. His parents seemed skeptical and want him to take his Stanford scholarship.
On a trip to Cleveland trying to find a replacement for Damon in a trade, he comes across Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a man whose opinion is so valued by the Indians organization that Beane buys his contract. Brand convinces Beane that players are judged on superficial means and some are undervalued. He conceives compiling a team of misfit players on a budget by buying runs. They base their decision almost solely on on-base percentage.
This sends shockwaves to the scouts and to the manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). They sign a player who can no longer be a catcher named Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt) to be their new first baseman. They trade for David Justice (Stephen Bishop) for his high on-base percentage and the fact that the New York Yankees will pay half his salary just to get rid of him.
The season gets off to a rocky start starting off at 20-26, Beane starts getting upset with the way Howe is using his team. Howe is putting Carlos Pena in over Hatteberg. Beane retaliates by trading Pena away forcing Howe to put Hatteberg into the lineup.
The team improves over the season and they go on a 20-win streak before ending the season with more wins (103) than the previous season with those star players. Although the film makes it seem like it's due to these sabermetric ideas, the film never even mentions star shortstop Miguel Tejada and third baseman Eric Chavez, pitchers Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder. If the season wasn't successful, this never would have been a movie.
It's still a great movie that does a great job making a movie about baseball, that isn't about baseball. It's about how you compete in a game that is almost rigged for the teams with more money. The film deduces that you always have a winner with money but then shreds that idea by presenting the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics.