Friday, October 14, 2011

Moneyball hits it out of the park

     If you're not a fan of the sport, it's hard to imagine sitting through a two plus hour film about the dynamics and statistics of baseball and actually care about it, but Moneyball manages to do just that and leave you with a new found respect for the game.
     Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) stars as Billy Beane, an ex-Oakland A's player, who got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was drafted, and eventually turned General Manager for the team. Beane is looking to save his team from another season of losses. He wants to re-strategize, get rid of current players and switch them for new ones, but he doesn't quite know the right trajectory to take.

     That's where Peter Brand (Jonah Hill, Superbad) comes in. He's a Yale graduate, with a degree in Economics and a quiet, but powerful appreciation for the sport. It seems unorthodox to hire Peter to pick new players based on mathematics and statistics, but that's exactly what Beane does. He knows he's taking a chance, but in his position he has little to loose.

     It's difficult convincing everyone else at first, when they're used to the accepted practice of hiring players based on hits, pitch speed and how much they're worth, according to the industry. But Beane believes he doesn't need to pay $7 million for a player, based on Brand's calculations, when he can get a good player for a fraction of that. And considering Beane's budget, he doesn't have much of a choice.

     Not everyone is on board with the new tactic, especially not the A's coach Art, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote).  Beane just wants the coach to give some of the players a chance, but Art is not about to let the GM tell him how to coach a team.

     The film is a constant struggle and battle of wills. You wonder if the team will ever be the dream team Beane wanted to put together, if Brand's math is the right injection needed to give the Oakland team a much needed boost and if you're like me: you'll care at all about a sports film? I can't answer the first two, but it's a clear yes for the latter.

     Directed by Bennett Miller (Capote), the film effortlessly infuses baseball knowledge with a story about overcoming obstacles that is never boring or too pretentious for those who know little about the sport. In fact, you don't even have to have any prior knowledge about the favorite past-time. That's thanks to a clever and smart script (based on the book by Michael Lewis) by Aaron Sorkin (fresh from accepting his Oscar from last year's The Social Network), who not only makes it easy to understand the lingo and what's going on, but makes it fun to watch.

     Pitt is the powerhouse behind the film; his character has a sturdy determination and firm approach to everything he does, but hearing him talk about the romantics of baseball is perhaps the finest point in the film. He says, "It's hard not to be romantic about baseball." It's obviously not just a past-time, it's a lifestyle for both those in the industry and fans of the sport. And for those who've seen it, it's hard not to be romantic about this film.

Rating: A



No comments:

Post a Comment