It’s no secret that in baseball there are the “have’s” and the “have nots.” In 2001, the Oakland A’s made a run at the playoffs. After they were defeated in 5 games by the Yankees, the top 3 name players left for bigger money in bigger markets. So what’s a small market team like Oakland to do in times of financial distress? Play “Moneyball,” of course, and this is the story based on the popular book by Michael Lewis.
What is “Moneyball?” Well…it’s a series of mathematical quotients that effectively break down a baseball players’ stats and then formalize them into one stat that simply states whether or not a player is worth the money he is making. This may seem analytical and it is. But the good thing about this movie is that it doesn’t get TOO bogged down in numbers. It does go into the formula but for the most part it stays away from the boring aspect of HOW a player is broken down and simply states it in a way that is entertaining. So how does a team replace 3 superstars with 3 guys who, quite simply, “get on base?” Well…that’s where the idea of moneyball succeeds. And where this movie succeeds is by having Brad Pitt play A’s General Manager, Billy Beane.
Not since “Bull Durham” in 1988 has there been such a commanding character on screen for a sports movie. Pitt is the star here and even though he has a great supporting cast, this wouldn’t be anywhere near as entertaining without him. He plays Beane as a “winner-take-all” type of guy who has absolutely no interest in cowering to anyone. He buys into the system that Yale graduate Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) sells him and he goes for it full throttle. Disregarding what his scouts and coaches tell him, Beane buys “lower than market value” players and puts them on the field to start the 2002 season.
From there it really is all about how the season plays out. At first, no one believes. But then as the season progresses, the team starts to win and everyone hops on the bandwagon. At one point, the A’s win 20 games in a row, finished 1st in the A.L. West but lose in the Division Series 3-2 to the Minnesota Twins. So that’s the history of “Moneyball” and where the movie plays out. Now…does it make for entertaining moviemaking?
Sort of. If you’re a baseball fan. Or a sports fan. Or a Brad Pitt fan (which I imagine every woman in the world is) then you’ll have something of interest in this movie. But if you’re not into the nuances of baseball? Then it might make for a long film. Because it is pretty much entirely set in the baseball clubhouse or on the field. There is some family drama set up when Beane’s ex-wife and daughter are introduced into the story, but it seems almost thrown in by the writers and doesn’t take up too much screentime. For the most part, this is a movie about baseball and the numbers of baseball. If that is your thing, then you will enjoy “Moneyball.”
Oh yeah…or if you’re a Brad Pitt fan. He’s pretty much in every scene so…it has that going for it also.
Overall Rating: B
10 second Review: Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s G.M., Billy Beane. Can he field a team while having the lowest salary in major league baseball? Using the “Moneyball” system he can! Let’s watch and see how it plays out…shall we? Oh yeah…and Brad Pitt is in it. That is all.