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By Iba of I Luv Cinema
What do you do when you have a cash-strapped baseball franchise trying to compete with the big boys? You play ‘moneyball’ – at least that is what Billy Beane and his brain trust in Oakland decided to do in 2002 following the loss of 3 key players to teams with exceedingly higher payrolls after the 2001 baseball season.
The film Moneyball directed by Bennet Miller, is based on the true story of Beane’s role in changing the process by which sports teams select their players. With a story by Stan Chervin, Moneyball is adapted for the screen by Steve Zallian and Aaron Sorkin; the source behind all of this is Michael Lewis’ bestselling book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game”.
Moneyball stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, Jonah Hill as his protégé Peter Brand and in a minor supporting role, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe, the reluctant manager of the Oakland Athletics, the team at the center of the story.
As the story of the 2002 A’s unfolds, we are also given a glimpse at Billy’s own failed baseball career and how this impacted the decisions he is making in the present.
That said I came into Moneyball with managed expectations. Sure, I had heard and read all the great press about the film, but I still was not certain that this film was necessarily for me, even despite the fact that I am a sports fan. What I got was an entertaining and enjoyable peek at the unseen workings of sports team as well as some human interest behind the story.
This is probably my favorite Brad Pitt performance in recent memory. Everything seemed so unforced, so natural that I really believed in and was rooting for his character. Jonah Hill was equally affable as the not so obvious partner in the scheme that they devised.
Despite being a film with a ton of economic formulas and sports references, the narrative is accessible to all who watch it, thanks to Zaillian’s and Sorkin’s co-writing.
On the downside, the sketchy portrayals of the supporting players left me wanting to know a little more about them. While Moneyball is clearly a story driven from Beane’s perspective, the supporting characters are not as fully developed as they could have been. Nowhere is this more evident is the characterization of Beane and his relationship with his estranged wife (played by Robin Wright) and daughter.
So while maybe not reaching the level of iconic films such as Field of Dreams or The Natural, Moneyball is definitely a standout film of the genre.