Thursday, 6 June 2013

Moneyball (2011) - ★★★★½

Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: Michael Lewis (Book), Stan Chervin (Story), Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin (Screenplay)
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman

I never liked baseball. I'm from Australia, where the sport isn't very popular. I know little about the game rules or history, so I had no idea what this movie had in store. You know what Moneyball did, it made me interested in baseball. In all my life there have been only two other movies that had me curious about the sport. They were: The Sandlot Kids and Bad News Bears. Moneyball trumps them all; it's thrilling, intelligent and very well made. The story itself was extremely interesting by showing us the unfairness of the sport and how mathematics can be a valuable tool. Look, if a movie can make you interested in a sport you never payed attention to, then it's done a great job.

A former baseball player named Billy Bean (Brad Pitt) is the general manager of an extremely disadvantaged team, the Oakland A's. He came really close to winning the big game (I'm not sure what it is called), but fell short as a result of not having the funds that the bigger baseball teams have. He comes across Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who shows him that statistics and a mathematical system can prove to be an invaluable tool when buying and trading off players. Together, they manage to turn a struggling team into a huge success story.

My heart was pumping every time the baseball games were on! Their failures made me depressed and their successes made me feel elated. This movie grabbed my emotions and I felt like I was on the journey with the Oakland A's. Moneyball goes to show that no matter what the subject of the film is, anyone can be interested in the story.

Jonah Hill stole the show
Jonah Hill impressed me the most in this film, making a most unexpected switch from toilet-humor comedy to serious drama. It's so hard to believe that Peter Brand is played by the fat guy from Superbad. I can't help but smile when I think that he received an Oscar nomination for this role. He was the comic-relief and the soul of the film, being the catalyst that made the Oakland A's successful. Every single scene that Hill was in, he stole the show. So far, I believe this is his greatest performance.

Brad Pitt was exceptional as always, playing a manly man that chews tobacco and hides his emotions. Whenever he let his emotions get the better of him, the acting was spectacular. I wouldn't call it one of Pitt's greatest performances, but it was perfect for the film anyway.

If there was one small drawback I found in the film, it's that it went too long. The scenes between Billy and his daughter could have been cut out completely in my opinion. We're interested in baseball and the ultimate underdog story, not Billy's relationship with his daughter. Even though these were the weaker moments of Moneyball, they were still very well done. Just unnecessary is all.

I absolutely adore the score of the film by Mychael Danna. Whenever there was a huge home run or a powerfully emotionally scene, the music really lifted it to greatness. The cinematography and whatnot made the story look authentic, taking place mainly in offices, stadiums, car-parks and hallways. Everything about this film screamed 'less is more,' which made the film that much better.

Even though it didn't fully explain the mathematics behind picking the teams, I saw how the system made sense. For me, the system that Peter Brand used was the most interesting part of the film. It was pretty cool to see the battle between the intuition of scouters and the reasoning of mathematics. You can either take the word of a professional baseball player, or you can look at the statistics and make a decision. The film showed how the scouts are flawed and the statistics is more accurate. I'd love to learn more about the whole darn system!

In a nutshell, I absolutely loved Moneyball. It's true what they say, "How can you not be romantic about baseball?" This is coming from a person that never really payed attention to the sport! The acting was magnificent, the story was riveting, and everything else was almost perfect. I recommend this movie to anyone who loves sports, mathematics, or a good underdog story.


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