A sports movie that isn’t about the big game, Moneyball Movie Review focuses on the battle to rethink the way a winning team is assembled. Directed by Bennett Miller, who coaxed a satisfying film out of similarly unlikely material with Capote, the movie is both a riveting drama and an important cultural history lesson.
The tale centers on Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the general manager of a professional baseball team with a tiny budget who attempts to refashion his sport by trusting statistical analysis as much as, or even more than, traditional scouting techniques. Beane’s bold move has a major backlash, but it pays off when his underdog Oakland Athletics shock the world and win the division title.
Adapted from Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book, the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian is smartly witty and utterly captivating. Its key scenes sizzle with the electricity of well-written characters bringing an exciting story to life.
The azmovies have a nimble feel that makes it engrossing for baseball fans and non-fans alike. Its on-field action is often understated and evocative, but its scenes at the conference table – involving the laconic Billy and his twentysomething Yale-educated statistician Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) – are electrified by a spirited repartee that plays off the contrast between their styles.
Pitt and Hill give outstanding performances, with both delivering lines that are smart, sly, and often funny. The movie also benefits from the strong support of a solid cast that includes a surprisingly effective Chris Cooper as a grizzled scout and Robin Wright, a welcome presence in her brief scene as Beane’s daughter.
In addition to the film’s emphasis on process, its characterizations are often intriguing and unpredictable. The movie eschews the usual clichés and instead paints a picture of people who have no interest in playing by the old rules. There’s an essential truth in the idea that baseball, like any other sport or business, has its own peculiar idiosyncrasies and irrationalities.
Although it occasionally stumbles into mawkish sentimentality, especially in a Sorkin-sounding lecture toward the end of the movie, Moneyball Movie Review offers a rewarding view of how the underdog can win a grueling contest against all odds. The movie’s central message, that the value of a human being cannot be measured by their wins and losses, is both poignant and timely. It’s a winning effort that puts Moneyball on the list of movies that deserve a wide audience.