At least we now know where Fantasy Leagues came from.
This is about the true story Billy Beane, a former jock turned general manager who uses unconventional methods to bring the best players to the Oakland A’s, a major league baseball team struggling against financial hardship.
I watch baseball from time to time and being from Philadelphia, I have been apart of a couple of heart-breaks before, but I’m sure as hell glad we weren’t this bad. But I do wish Charlie Manual looked like Brad.
Director Bennett Miller takes the average and cliched sports movies, and turns it into something that actually does something not many have been able to do: makes whatever sport their talking about, entertaining to watch for those who don’t know anything about it.
Miller has many moments of inspired direction with just focusing on how the team is built up with lots and lots of talking, with barely any of the actual game of baseball being played. I mean you of course get the usual sports montages and inspirational moments, but the film is more about the numbers and how to run a successful baseball team with such a slight budget. You also get the feeling that Billy Beane and his team actually changed the way we look at players and baseball, but they don’t try to hit you over the head with that point too much which I was very glad for.
The talking in this film is what also kept me entertained because I never actually knew just how Beane’s way of team-building changed the way we look at sports nowadays. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin both wrote this script and you can tell that they had a lot of fun with this because there are some great moments of hilarity but also plenty of insight and human emotion into these character’s lives that we actually do start to care for. Sorkin brings that constant hammering of words back-and-forth in the script and works here the most, especially when the film is just flying numbers that we have no idea about, right at us.
My problem with this film is that as much as the emotional aspect for this film may have worked, at the same time it kind of took away from the film too. The film shows Billy Beane and how he deals with all of this failure with his baseball team as well as his failure to live up to his expectations as an actual baseball player. This part of the story worked but the film didn’t focus on just that, they also brought in his daughter that really is in the film for about 3 scenes but the film tries so hard to make it seem like she has such an impact on the story that it really seems forced. They try to make Billy’s family “issues” (if there are any) more important than the actual team itself and even that song his daughter writes for him seems something that no 12-year old ever would write. I’m talking about you too Justin Beiber!
The film also tends to run on too long which sometimes isn’t as much of a problem if the film keeps you going, but the pace itself keeps stopping and going to the point of when I didn’t know when it was going to end, nor did I have a feeling they were going to choose a good ending. It’s about a 2 hour and 12 minute movie, which for some is way too long and especially too long for the people around me as everybody I looked at seemed to be moving around a lot after about the 2 hour mark.
I came to see this film for one reason and one main reason only and that was Brad Pitt, who plays A’s manager, Billy Beane. This is a great performance from Pitt as usual because he really gets to challenge the depth of his acting skills with this character. It’s so easy to sympathize with this guy because he seems like such a nice and cool dude who’s caught in a total rutt and wants nothing more to actually win some games and keep this franchise alive. Just by looking at his face, I already felt the emotions that he was feeling and that’s what Pitt does best here. He also gets to show a lot of that great charm that he always has in any film and whether he’s just talking to player, spouting out numbers, or walking around always so cool like he always does, Pitt just shows that he can hit every chord with the audience that needs to be hit with one character.
Jonah Hill is also great in this very tied-down role as Peter Brand, our numbers man. Hill (who was fat still) brings a lot of funny moments to the film and actually makes you believe him as this total number-nerd that builds this great friendship with Beane. Hill and Pitt are probably the most unlikely buddies in any film, but they make it work every chance they get and their scenes just really had me involved almost every time. It’s cool that two totally different actors like Hill and Pitt can actually come together for one film and make it seem believable, rather than just something that Hollywood executives needed for money. Philip Seymour Hoffman gets the top-billing for this film as well but he’s rarely in this but plays the best to his advantage as Art Howe, Beane’s biggest problem when it comes to staff.
Consensus: Moneyball doesn’t fully hit it out of the park (cliche, I know) but does however give us a great look at a system in baseball that changed the game forever, as well as being well-acted, funny, and still touching somewhere in between all the numbers.