Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, Casey Bond, Stephen Bishop, Royce Clayton, David Hutchison, Kathryn Morris, Robin Wright, Kerris Dorsey, Robert Kotick, Spike Jonze and Joe Satriani.
I know i am way behind the reviews but i was caught up in some work and still trying hard to do as many pending reviews as i can before the end of this month, that is my target. So Moneyball as a whole movie was something i was looking forward to when i heard about it because of two things only, Brad Pitt and the two screenwriters specially Aaron Sorkin. The reviews and the buzz surrounding this movie got me more curious and when i saw it, i was blown away by how amazing a sports movie can be with so much more off-field action and things going on behind than the actual game played on the ground. This a biographical sports drama movie based on a book which tells the story of Oakland Athletics baseball team and their general manager Billy Beane played by Brad Pitt. Billy Beane is very upset over his team's loss to the Yankees and their overall performance followed by the impending departure of some of the star players. He wants to assemble a competitive team for the 2002 season with a strategy in his mind but fails due to the Oakland's limited player payroll. Beane meets Peter Brand played by Jonah Hill who is a young Yale economics graduate with some radical ideas about player's values when he visits the Cleveland Indians. Beane hires Brand as the assistant general manager after testing him, team scouts are not very happy with this or Beane's ideas in general. How Brand works is that he selects players based almost on their on base percentage (OBP) and not their characteristics unlike the scouts and with that he assembles a team of very undervalued players with more potential and in the whole finance budget. Despite the objections from the scouts, Beane supports Brand's theory and hires all the players he selected and needed with some of the most unorthodox choices that no one else would have made. With everyone dismissing this idea and Beane strictly believing in it, Athletics win an unbelievable 20 consecutive games which becomes the American League record.
I think just like the choices Beane has to make, the movie itself really plays like a gamble to me. It is not your usual or just another sports movie, it doesn't plays like one but still stands as one of the best and superbly made sports movies i have ever seen. Not that it has Sorkin involved but the movie on its own does to Baseball what Social Network did to Facebook. Baseball is a game i know nothing about, which is normal being a non-US resident as this game is loved there. I won't say this is practically a IT movie for the baseball but it just tells a story that you can apply anywhere or in any sports that is the universality of this movie. The unorthodox approach in the movie by the characters gets equals to what you see as a movie and as you apply that to your life both. I am not a big sports fan but the Cricket is something we literally have to live with considering the popularity while Hockey being the National Sport of Pakistan. Even i see players that are physically fit with not even one feature that would get me into thinking whether or not the player is suppose to play with that particular disability or not. What we don't think is that even a players who seems like a champion can give a poor performance while the one that looks like someone you will find working in a constructions site can have the best odds. The main problem is we undervalue things a lot based on their looks but we never for a minute try to see the inside of it all as this is what happens with Billy Beane who himself was a player before becoming the manager of A's. Scouts thought he was a great player, he had to make a choice, college or this. Despite the great things scouts had to say, Beane gave poor performance over the years when he was a player.
Much of the action in Moneyball happens off-field but you are drawn into this quite visceral experience on-field which is quite rare. The way the visuals and sounds work together to show us this America's beloved game is a stunning work with slow motion shots and the way they show player's faces and ball hitting bats and gloves and the whole ground it just brilliantly shows the whole dynamics of it. As i said, most of the movie take place off-field which shows how the action takes place behind the curtains with the whole players politics and everything. This particular story moreover shows a new thing, statistics playing a great role in player sorting and the whole inner conflicts of the GM Billy Beane. It has some of the great work by cinematographer Wally Pfister and yes the editing is pitch perfect too. Brad Pitt delivers the best performance of his entire career in this movie, i was literally blown away by his stunning work and how it just took a minute into the movie for me to get him and the character itself. Billy Beane has to be one of the most memorable role he played, the kind of a inner conflict that happens in him brings out the best and the right kind of emotions. He is a child like character with insane enthusiasm about this sport and a great love for it. It is unique in a way from Social Network because the nerd here is actually a good looking man who once was a jock. Billy Beane is one of the strongest characters i have seen in years and i can write a whole book on him and they way he works. Beane is someone who wont tries to create bonds between him and the players, he stays away and not tries to connect with them emotionally.
Beane doesn't even watches the game as he is superstitious or that once again he doesn't want to connect emotionally to the game too just like he doesn't with the players as he wont be able to stand them loosing. Jonah Hill on the other hand plays Peter Brand in a way i never thought an actor like him will, i like him now after this movie for sure. There is this strong chemistry between both of them that drives this movie along with the other factors and you will enjoy it very much. There are scenes where all they do is just talk and talk but the way it is written, the sharpness and the deep humor in it makes those scenes fun to watch. Writing of this movie is extremely good and i call it the best adapted screenplay of the year. The subject they take and brings such wonderful emotions to it, it seems cold but the more you feel it the more emotional aspect of it you starts to get. Statistics is something that bores me so much because not only i am bad with mathematics but i am not interested in them and this is something that could have been a trouble for even the biggest baseball fans but it definitely isn't here. There are some funny scenes in the movie, the characters are someone that feels very cold and restrained into their own self not wanting to come out and experience the world around them or try something different. They aren't comfortable outside the boundaries they have built around them. Everyone opposes the whole idea of Billy Beane and Peter Brand and they have to face lots of criticism from their own people and critics but in the end they proves it. This is the kind of a underdog movies that truly cheers you up, they literally don't win but still they do. Beane is happy that they proved how effective this approach could be even though they loses and another team Boston Red Sox wins a world series based on the similar approach as Beane's. That victory for them came decades after their last win. All in all this is a very well directed and well made movie with such a fascinating story that is bound to win you over. Currently its my 2nd most favorite movie of 2011 behind A Separation and i just can't get enough of it. The ending of the movie drove me into tears, see it for yourself.