Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin, Michael Lewis
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stephen Bishop, Brent Jennings, Ken Medlock, Tammy Blanchard, Jack McGee, Nick Searcy, Vyto Ruginis, Glenn Morshower, Casey Bond, Nick Porrazzo
Synopsis: Oakland A's GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy is about to turn baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Sometimes life can't be measured by the numbers...
Isn't life funny sometimes? I mean, at one moment, we think we're on top of the world, as a great financial opportunity comes our way. However, sometimes that once in a life time opportunity never pans out the way we hope. Sometimes life just can't be measured by the financial numbers that come our way. After all, a wise man once said that money can't buy happiness; hence why you can't always measure happiness by the numbers. Although, the same logic used to be applied to baseball a while back. Before 2002, many experts in baseball used to believe that you can't measure the potential of a player strictly by the numbers, as many scouts lead off their analysis of players more by intuition and gut instinct more so than any exact science. However, how can intuition measure the value of any player? After all, is pointing out a player's looks, attitude or who he dates really relevant if whether or not he can play? Or perhaps baseball's entire idealogy of evaluating players during that time was flawed...
The movie is centered around the Oakland Athletic's GM, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who used to be a former baseball player himself. During the year, 2002, Billy had the daunting task of replacing three of their key players (Isringhausen, Giambi, and Damon). Unfortunately, these three players were enticed to leave when they were offered more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. And those who follow the game of baseball know, Major League Baseball (MLB) never exactly had a fair revenue sharing system among it's teams; which is why teams like the New York Yankees can afford to buy the best players that money can buy, and teams like Oakland Athletics are s*** out of luck. Is it a fair system that a small market team has to compete against a billion dollar franchise like the Yankees? Not really, but who said life was fair? Anyway, to get back to the story, the loss of these three players forces Billy to reexamine the A's situation, as he knows that something needs to change if they are to ever hope to compete in the MLB.
Enter Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Upon Billy's arrival to the Cleveland Indians facility to conduct business as usual, he runs into a young intern named Peter Brand that has not only devised a rather complex mathematical system for evaluating players' value based on their statistics, but Billy soon finds out that this system could prove to revolutionize baseball as we know it. How Peter Brand's innovative system works is quite interesting, and very unique in it's methods. Not only does Peter's system prove to amazingly precise in measuring a player's value, but it also proves useful in finding talent where all other MLB teams overlooked.
Although many of the scouts working for the Athletic's question Beane's sanity, when he tries to implement Brand's system. In fact, one scout even dares to question if the reason behind Beane's new found rationality to deviate from normal scouting intuition to evaluate a player's value has more to do with his shortcomings as a player. Maybe, the scout might have a point about that to some degree, as Beane does have various flashbacks about his many failures as a former player; often reflecting on how much potential he had coming out of high school..only to end up being a bust in the MLB. However, regardless of what any of us may think, it still doesn't change the fact that the Moneyball system that Peter Brand and Billy Beane implemented has changed the game of baseball forever.
Although around the ending, Billy inevitably sees the team's season as a monumental failure, when they fail to win the world series that year; in spite of their success of setting a league record with winning twenty games in a row, and winning their division. Plus, according to statistics, the Oakland Athletics won as many games as MLB's top dog, the Yankees, while using a mere fraction of their payroll amount to do it. Sure, in Billy Beane's mind, the only way to truly change the game of baseball was to win the world series using their patented Moneyball system; thus showing that it is possible to compete in an unfair league like the MLB. However, as Peter Brand is quick to point out, they already have changed the game of baseball...and he just didn't realize it right away.
What I liked most about this movie was how amazingly low key it was in dealing with Billy Beane's character, while still managing to tell a deep story. Granted, there was some internal conflict within the character himself, and it's a sports film about a GM trying to take a rag tag team of misfit players into the playoffs, yet it never trails into the line of various sporting cliches that one would expect. No, "win one for the Gipper" speeches here, as everything seems fairly grounded in this movie. Not only does the film show the emotional side of baseball, but it also goes into the business and strategic side of it as well; hence making it even more interesting to watch.
Plus, you have to give credit to some of the acting performances in this movie as well. Jonah Hill plays a shy, yet surprisingly charming Peter Brand character, who's great with numbers, but still needs help with his people skills. Of course, this meshes well with Pitt's no nonsense and fast talking Billy Beane character, who isn't afraid to mix things up to get things done.
Overall, I don't think this will be anywhere near as popular as many other sports films of the past like "The Fighter" or "Real Steel" for the simple fact that "Moneyball" doesn't try to go for the cheap inspirational cliches of it's genre. No, it's business is to try to give the audience an engagingly deep grounded story about Billy Beane, and how he would go on to change the game of baseball as we know it. And to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way. Definitely worth checking out at the theaters with a rating of three and a half out of four. Hell, even if you don't like baseball, you'll still love how surprisingly well told this story is, as "Moneyball" fails to disappoint.