Review: Moneyball

THE SETUP: The manager for the Oakland Athletics (Brad Pitt) is stuck with little money and an interest in non-competitiveness from the team’s owner. Looking to try something different, he hires an economics graduate (Jonah Hill) to implement a very unpopular computerized method of drafting players called “moneyball”.

THE THOUGHTS: I’m not a fan of baseball. I’ve never played. My hometown doesn’t have a professional team. No one I know plays. But, there’s something about the mythology of baseball. There’s a reason movies like The Natural, Field of Dreams, and Eight Men Out are great…they make the game about more than hitting a ball. Moneyball is no exception. Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane wants to change the way the game works and he’s great at showing the excitement and frustration of challenging the status quo. You really root for him as you learn his story and his relationship with his daughter. Jonah Hill was great as the analyst, dialing down his usual frat boy personality to really add something to the film. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright Penn share supporting roles but it’s really Pitt and Hill’s movie. If you’re not a baseball fan will you still get the technical aspects of the story? Yes. It’s pretty straight forward and pretty damn interesting. If you’re looking for scenes of playing ball, you’ll be disappointed as all the action happens in the offices and in the locker room. The focus here is about the people, not the sport…which is funny to say when they’re using a computer to pick players.

4 stars – you’d recommend this. I may never have watched the 2002 season that this movie, and the book before it, was based on but, as Brad Pitt says in the movie: “It’s hard not to romanticize baseball.” And it was hard not to really like this movie.

Random Recommendations

Eight Men Out (1988) – In 1919, eight players from the Chicago White Sox took money to throw the World Series. This is that story and yes, that is Charlie Sheen…but still give it a chance.

Hoosiers (1986) – Considered one of the best sports movies of all time and I’d have a hard time disagreeing. The true story of a coach with baggage (Gene Hackman) and his drunk assistant (Dennis Hopper) who take a high school to the championships. You’ve heard of movies with heart? This wrote the book.

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