I have another rare chance to catch a film more than a day before it's
national release. Usually when this happens there's a horde of folks
queued up. When the doors to the theatre open, phones are sequestered,
and a rush is put on to find prime seating. Those were movies starring
a bunch of
well less than household names. Surely a sneak to see a
Brad Pitt movie would be even more chaotic. Unfortunately the waning
popularity of America's pastime is as much of a deterrent as a movie
star and free entertainment are agents of attraction.
Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is a former major leaguer turned general manager of the Oakland A's. After losing in the playoffs to the Yankees, the A's lose their stars to free agency. Billy is tasked with rebuilding despite a payroll that leaves the A's trailing the competition.
While going through the usual motions, Billy happens by Pete Brand (Jonah Hill), an economist who may have found a way to scout baseball with the efficiency the A's need. The two delve in head first, and despite some tough outings they never back down.
Pitt is at the top of his game. As an everymanor at least one that isn't played up as wealthy, a man struggling to keep his jobfrustration is clearly seen in Pitt's face. Pitt brings humanity to the ominous job of a general manager. Flashbacks of his stint in "the show" surmise his entire life, be it his divorce or relationship with his daughter Casey (Kerris Dorsey).
Moneyball is not the action-packed sports outing one may be expecting. Director Bennett Miller spends very little time focusing on the game of baseball, or even the personalities of the players. Moneyball is a movie about management. Its deadpan, forthright approach is fresh compared to the typical underdog story filled with home runs and stolen bases. There's no electrifying music or thrilling speeches, but the excitement found in a phone call is realized as well as one could imagine. I don't think any actor other than Hill could pull of his slowly clinched fist.
Like the good sports films, Moneyball shares a deeper meaning than simply winning. Immediately the value of loyalty comes to mind. The sports genre is changing, much like how the crew of this story changed talent scouting. Just last year a movie rose up about the struggle to manage a boxer, and now here's the struggle to manage a team.
Action / Biography / Drama / Sport
Action / Biography / Drama / Sport
Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is upset by his team's loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 postseason. With the impending departure of star players Johnny Damon (Johnny Damon), Jason Giambi (Jason Giambi), and Jason Isringhausen to free agency, Beane attempts to devise a strategy for assembling a competitive team for 2002 but struggles to overcome Oakland's limited player payroll. During a visit to the Cleveland Indians, Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess players' value. Beane tests Brand's theory by asking whether he would have drafted him, Beane having been a Major League player before becoming general manager. Though scouts considered Beane a phenomenal player, his career in the Major Leagues was disappointing. After some prodding, Brand admits that he would not have drafted him until the ninth round and that Beane would probably have gone to college instead. Sensing opportunity, Beane hires Brand as the Athletics' assistant general manager.The team's scouts are first dismissive of and then hostile towards Brand's non-traditional sabermetric approach to scouting players. Rather than relying on the scouts' experience and intuition, Brand selects players based almost exclusively on their on base percentage (OBP). By finding players with a high OBP but characteristics that lead scouts to dismiss them, Brand assembles a team of undervalued players with far more potential than the A's hamstrung finances would otherwise allow. Despite vehement objections from the scouts, Beane supports Brand's theory and hires the players he selected, such as unorthodox submarine pitcher Chad Bradford (Casey Bond). Following the free agent signings, Beane finds that he also faces opposition from Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the Athletics' manager. With tensions already high between them because of a contract dispute, Howe disregards Beane and Brand's strategy and plays the team in a traditional style despite their unsuitability. Beane is eventually forced to trade away the lone traditional star player, Carlos Pe
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December 17, 2011 at 11:39 AM