After viewing two hours and thirteen minutes of the movie Moneyball, I left the theatre with great delight. Regardless of whether you are a lover of baseball, the movie Moneyball will appeal to you. 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. After achieving this incredible record, the A’s ultimately lose in the postseason to the Twins. This is a great accomplishment because the Oakland A’s had a limited 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. Beane said "No" to the most prestigious job in baseball, following his heart, to continue building the Oakland A's baseball program and ensuring that he stayed on the west coast so that he could continue his visits with his daughter who lived with his ex-wife in California. Beane 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. The ending is quite refreshing as Bean's passion for his family and job outweighed money.
I thought Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were very convincing in their roles and the chemistry between the two were perfect. Their interaction was refreshing as Billy Beane gave his Assistant General Manager great lattitude in helping to run the ball team and acted as a true Mentor to his Assistant Manager. The Assistant General Manager's age was irrelevant; he was judged solely by his ingenious and novel approach toward the evaluation baseball player’s talent. I especially enjoyed the scene where Bill Beane Jonah Hill essentially told the old baseball scouts to either move forward with their new appraoch or move on. Johana HIll, who played a nerdy economist from Yale, was perfect for the part and is likely to be nominated for best supporting actor. This was a very different role for Hill who typically plays comedic roles. Hill was very convincing in this role and I would expect future roles from him in the future. I thought this was a career performance for Pitt as well and think he is assured of being nominated for a number of awards. Pitt, as Billy Beane, has flashbacks throughout the movie about his poor performance in the big leagues playing for the mets. Working as the General Manager for the A's is a second chance for Beane and one can certainly relate to times in their lives when they need to pull themselves up from a situation where they failed and used it as an opportunity for the future.
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 other aspect of the film I know many people could relate to is how Billy Beane, who was not a succesful major league baseball player, reinvented himself as a General Manager to continue his passion of working in baseball. The writers included just the right amount of play on the field. The relationship between Billy Beane and his daughter Casey (played by Kerris Dorsie) was touching and an integral part of the movie. 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. As Billy Bean said "how can you not be romantic about baseball?"