by Rick Grant
The premise of this scenario is: Can a small market team, like the Oakland A’s, compete with the deep pockets of the New York Yankees? Money talks and gets the star players.
Ah yes, but perhaps, with a genius economics’ wiz from Yale, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) A’s GM, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) can use the numbers to hire less expansive players who have one big talent, such as getting on base to score runs.
The story is not a typical on-the-field baseball tale but a behind the scenes study of a beleaguered GM Billy Beane trying to put together a winning team with a fraction of the money spent by the bigger market teams. To Billy, it’s all about getting players on base to score runs, not the obvious attributes of a player’s stats or star status.
So, he hires Peter Brand to verify his theory by using Brand’s math skills to create formulas to judge players on a whole new criterion based on their ability to get on base and ultimately score runs.
However, Beane knows that his owner can’t afford power hitters. So he believes he can put together a winning team with Brand’s math and his insight.
In contrast, Beane’s critics say there is more to playing baseball than math. Indeed, there are many variables to the game, such as the spirit of the team, the individual players passion for playing the game, their health for each game, et al.
So, Beane and Brand go to work to overhaul the A’s roster. Beane uses his negotiating savvy to score some solid trade deals to get high grade players. When the morale gets low because their losing every game, Beane shakes things up by bringing in new blood.
Director Bennet Miller created a tension filled environment for his actors to create their characterizations. Pitt and Hill work off each other with great skill and timing. Pitt downplays his looks with a pinch of snuff in his lip and his continual fretting over his strategy.
Beane literally lives in his office and around the stadium. He has no social life and he is divorced from his first wife, Sharon, (Robin Wright). They share custody of their musically talented daughter.
Alas, Beane’s first attempts at the new method of getting players falls flat, which only substantiates his naysayers’ opinion–that it would never work.
However, as Beane keeps changing players, he finally gets the right chemistry and the A’s start winning . First they win 4 in a row, then 10 in a row and so on. But would the team choke in the last games of the season? Time would tell.
Overall, the movie is funny and superbly written and acted. It’s definitely a must see for quality movie fans. And don’t call this a sports movie, at least not in the classic sense.
Moneyball Movie Review
by Rick Grant