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United States


January 11, 2016

Aaron Heller
If you love baseball, you will definitely love the movie Moneyball.  Moneyball, a 2011 American biographical sports drama film  is directed by Bennett Miller and is from a screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. The film is based on Michael Lewis’s 2003 non-fiction book of the same name, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team’s 2002 season. 
Brad Pitt, who plays the  General Manager, Billy Beane, is the main character of the movie.  Billy Beane, who tries to assemble a competitive Oakland A’s baseball team for the 2002 season with a limited budget for recruiting players takes a novel approach to the game of baseball.  During a visit by Billy Bean to the Cleveland Indians, Beane meets Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess players' value. .  Brand introduces Beane to this sophisticated way to recruiting and building a team by using mathematics and statistics in valuing a player’s real value to the team.  Using this approach, for example, they are more concerned about a hitters “on base percentage” than his batting average.  Bean and Brand ignore traditional recruiting strategy and instead focus on statistics.  They select a pitcher that throws the ball funny and thus is ignored by other teams, Chad Bradford (played by Casey Bond) and catcher Scott Hatteberg (played by Chris Pratt). 
Once Beane and Brand were able to get the coach of the team to play the players Beane and Brand recruited, the team went on to win 20 straight consecutive games, an American League record.  Subsequent to achieving this incredible record, the A’s ultimately lose in the postseason to the Twins.  This is an incredible accomplishment because the Oakland A’s had a small fraction of the funds for recruiting compared to the other teams in the Major League.   Bean is disappointed as he believes a championship is what defines success. At the end of the film, Beane is contacted by the owner of the Boston Red sox, who realizes that the model Beane and Brand have implemented is the future of baseball. He offers Beane a job as general manager of the Red Sox. Beane passes up the opportunity, an offer of a $12.5 million salary, which would have made him the highest-paid General Manager in sports history. He returns to Oakland to continue managing the Athletics, while a title card reveals that two years later the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series using the model Beane and Brand pioneered.
I thought Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were very convincing in their roles and the chemistry between the two were perfect.  Jonah Hill, who was a nerdy economist from Yale, was perfect for the part and is likely to be nominated for best supporting actor.  I thought this was a career performance for Pitt as well and think he is assured of being nominated for a number of awards.
You do not need to have a deep knowledge about baseball to enjoy this film.  Steve Zaillian, who wrote Schindler’s list and Aaron Sorkin, who created the television show The West Wing and who won an Oscar for the The Social Network, wrote a fabulous script.  I believe the film would be enjoyable to any age group and regardless of whether you are a sports fan.  I especially enjoyed learning about the recruiting process and a behind the scene approach of learning what a General Manager goes through when building a team.  The writers included just the right amount of play on the field.  One of the enjoyable parts of the movies was the relationship between Billy Beane and his daughter Casey (played by Kerris Dorsie).  Casey, who lives with her mother as Billy and his wife are divorced, visits Billy and plays on the guitar an original song that she sings to her father which was really moving.  The special effects were also well done.  The scenes on the ball field was very realistic, it seemed like you were watching a real major league game.  The mood that was created in the locker rooms and back-office of the Oakland A’s were just right.  The lighting and timing of the scene transitions was spot on.   If I were you I would go see this movie, I know you will thank me for making this recommendation.

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