I am just going to come out and say that “Moneyball” is the best movie about baseball ever made, and one of the best sports movies ever made. Now I am not a big baseball fan. I have never seen a baseball game from beginning to end, I just find it boring to watch. I also hate it when people talk about fantasy-baseball stats. So when I heard that this movie was going to combine the two, I was expecting to be completely bored out of my mind while watching. I was pleasantly surprised, when the end credits rolled I was blown away at what I just saw.
“Moneyball” is based on a true story. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, he is the general manager of the Oakland A’s. He is the guy who assembles the team. He is losing his three best players for the nest season, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen. Billy is struggling to find replacement players with his budget, as Billy says, “There are rich teams and there are poor teams, then theirs fifty feet of crap, and then theirs us.” During a visit to the Cleveland Indians, Billy meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess players value. They get layers who seem flawed to scouts, but with this new method, it shows they can get on base, score runs, and most importantly win games. This is changing what baseball scouts have done for the past 150 years, and everyone thinks Billy and Peter are out of their minds.
“Moneyball” is the second movie this year that has made business talk into compelling dialog. The first being “Margin Call”. I give this movie huge points for keeping me engaged in a subject that I really can’t normally stand. This is thanks to the script, and this movie has two outstanding screenwriters. Those screenwriters are Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”, “Gangs of New York”, “American Gangster”) and Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”). The dialog is compelling, snappy, and never lets you get out of the movie, not even for a second. This is the reason for the movie’s success, if the script wasn’t as good as it is then the movie would have failed. For the most part the movie is all baseball talk, so the fantastic script was essential. I was worried when the script was shoving in a minor subplot involving Billy’s family. The movie could have done without that, but at the same time it was a nice little touch to give Billy some back round.
Their were risks taken here, this movie isn’t really about the players, or the games, it’s all about the behind the scenes of baseball. I can’t remember ever seeing a sports movie where it wasn’t all about the players and the games. I didn’t think a sports movie could work if it didn’t do that, but this movie proved me wrong. You get to see the players, but you never get to know them that well, and the games are all short. It all works though. Everything that happens behind the scenes works extremely well. It’s interesting to see everything that is happening, it makes you think that baseball and other sports are business, and just fans love it as a game.
The whole cast does an excellent job. Brad Pitt is as good as ever, and he plays Billy in a subtle way that makes the character seem real. He makes us care for Billy, and we desperately want him to succeed in what he is trying to do. Jonah Hill surprised me. I have never thought of him as a real actor, he has just never shown any real talent where it makes me think he has potential. It turns out he has talent after all. This is easily his best performance date, and he nails it. His scenes with Bitt are great. I was shocked at the chemistry between the two. It was great, and they played off each other very well. Philip Seymour Hoffman also gives a great performance. With this and “The Ides of March”, Hoffman is having a great year. Director Bennett Miller (who’s last movie was the great “Capote” witch stared Hoffman) helps to draw great performances from the entire cast.
This movie took lots of risks, and they all paid off, this is a different kind of sports movie. It did something that another sports movie has never done for me. It has kept me interested in a sport I can’t stand in real life. This movie succeeds on so many levels delivering a sweet, emotional, funny, dramatic, and complex ride. It’s safe to say that “Moneyball hits it out of the park.