Jacob Reviews….Moneyball

In the past couple of years, moviegoers have been seeing more movies based out of the world of sports.   There are two different genres of sports films- sports drama (Rudy, Miracle, Invictus and Seabiscuit) and sports comedies (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, The Leatherheads and Bad News Bears).   Moneyball does have small comedic moments but overall is considered a sport drama film based on the 2002 baseball season of the Oakland Athletics, which was later made into a 2003 baseball economics book by author Michael Lewis.

Is Moneyball a story about underdogs? Yes it is…. The movie’s main character: Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) and his struggle to create a team that could win a World Series championship after losing three critical players from their line-up.   Pitt delivers his second best performance to date in this film.  One of my favorite scenes in the film occurs in the beginning where Beane confronts his scouts after hearing them talking the regular sports talk and not walking the save our team walk.

After the fiery encounter with the scouts, Pitt’s Beane meets his future General Manager Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) in Cleveland after an abysmal meeting with the Cleveland Indians’ General Manager.  Brand manages to convince the Oakland A’s General Manager into weaving statistics to prove a player’s worth to his team.   Along the way, both of them face obstacles from the Oakland A’s leadership including manager Art Howe (played by a barely recognizable Phillip Seymour Hoffman), team scouts and sports commentators.

But once Beane begins to take control of his team, the losing streak ends and the Oakland A’s win 20 consecutive games.  Unfortunately, the A’s lose in the first round in the playoffs against the Minnesota Twins and the audience learns that Beane passed up the opportunity to become the Boston Red Sox’s General Manager that came with a salary which would have made Beane the highest paying General Manager in baseball history.

Moviegoers would be very impressed with Moneyball.  This is some of the best acting I have ever seen in a sports movie.  One of the cast members that will excite viewers is Jonah Hill.  Since his big screen debut in 2004’s I Heart Huckabees, Hill has primarily been based in comedy and Moneyball marks his full drama debut.  (2009’s Funny People does not count because that was a comedy-drama).   Hill’s character was hilarious because he fused together a serious businessman attitude with a second banana outlook during his scenes with Brad Pitt’s Beane.

Moneyball had a great screenplay due to Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network & West Wing) and Steven Zaillian (American Gangster).   They peppered the film with terrific one-liners and material that made the actors think on their feet.  I also enjoyed the cinematography for two reasons.   First, it was very clever using flashback sequences to see how Beane’s damaged baseball career.  Secondly, I also enjoyed watching the accompanying actual game footage of the baseball games.

Final Thoughts and Grade: This well-rounded movie was incredible.  Both Pitt and Hill delivered incredible performances and I hope that this film gets looked at again for awards season.  A

 

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar