9 ene. 2012

My Review: Moneyball (10/10)

¨There are rich teams and there are poor teams, then there's fifty-feet of crap, and then there's us. ¨

Moneyball was among the best films I`ve seen this year. It really caught me by surprise since I`m not a big baseball fan and wasn`t expecting much considering the subject matter. Baseball and economics seemed like a bad combination for me, but since Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman were all starring in this film I had to see it. It`s impossible not to fall in love with the Billy Beane character and the relationship he had with his young assistant Peter Brand. They are really the center of this movie so if you`re doubting wither or not you should see this worrying about the subject matter all I can say is go see it anyways because it is much more than simply another baseball movie. There are some very strong and emotional scenes where I couldn’t help but get goose bumps over a team and a sport I really didn’t care for. That is how good this film is. Moneyball is directed by Bennett Miller, who also directed Capote in which Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar for his lead performance as Truman Capote. Miller has proven he can make some great films. The movie was adapted from the book written by Michael Lewis (Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game) which focuses on the true story of the Oakland A`s General Manager, Billy Beane, who managed to put together the 2002 team on a very low budget by using computer-generated analysis to draft his players based on a formula which was perfected by his young assistant. This would change the game forever. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network and Charlie Wilson`s War) did a great job at adapting the screenplay for the big screen.

The movie begins with real footage from the last 2001 divisional series game between the Yankees and the A`s. The A`s were winning the series two games to nothing, but the Yankees came back to win the final three games and leave the A`s out of the Championship Divisional game for a second year in a row. The bad news for General Manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), is that he`s going to lose his three star players for the next season. The A`s don`t have the kind of budget that other rich teams like the Red Sox or the Yankees have. It`s just impossible to compete against those teams, so it`s time to think outside the box. Billy meets with his talent scouts to see how they can replace these key players without any money, but finds no solution. He decides to hire a young Yale Economic graduate who was working as an advisor for the Cleveland Indians. His name is Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) and he uses statistical data to analyze each player and decide which one has a better value based on their batting average and price. Beane and Brand go against all odds and decide to build their team entirely on these computer statistics. The scouts are outraged by the decision, but Beane believes this is the only way he can compete with the big budget teams. Beane also has some arguments with manager Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) over whom he should start, but the main focus of the film relies on the relationship between Beane and Brand. There are also a few scenes dealing with Beane and his relationship with his young daughter Casey (Kerris Dorsey) who lives with her mom Sharon (Robin Wright) in California as well.

Moneyball works as both a sports film and a biographical movie, but it is really much more than that. It works thanks to a very strong performance from both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill who shine in every scene they are together in. Since Beane doesn`t like to watch the games for fear of jinxing the team we don`t really get to see a lot of baseball. There are several conversations revolving around baseball, but it really isn`t that central to the film. The true heart of the film is Beane who we all want to see succeed and silence the critics. We want his system to work because he is such a charismatic character and he believes in what he is doing. The scene where the streak begins is very inspiring and one of the best moments in sports film in my opinion. I really got a lot of goose bumps during that twentieth game winning streak. I also enjoyed the side story revolving around Billy and his daughter Casey. Kerris Dorsey has little screen time, but she is great opposite Brad Pitt. As for Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright they really don`t have much to work with and don`t bring anything to the story really. It`s a shame because Hoffman is a great actor and he could`ve had a better role in this film. In my opinion the ending is perfect as well and the soundtrack was also great. Moneyball was one of the most emotional experiences I`ve had with a movie all year and I really recommend this inspiring film.

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