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Moneyball

Moneyball: Underdog Fights the System

  • Brad PittJonah Hill...
  • Drama
  • Bennett Miller
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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Moneyball: Underdog Fights the System

Billy
Beane (Pitt) is the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, a baseball team
with the lowest budget in the entire league. The team makes it all the way to
the last game of the season where they lose and suddenly they’re back at square
one again; except this time, their three star players have been bought by
bigger teams who can actually afford to pay them decent salaries.

Smarting
from the loss, Billy vows to find a way to beat the system and make a
championship-winning team out of the financially challenged Oakland A’s. While
looking for solutions to his dilemma, he meets Peter Brand (Hill), a recent Economics
graduate from Yale who is a firm believer in the merits of analyzing the
players’ worth according to statistics instead of perceived talent.

Beane is completely fed up with the constraints of the baseball system that decree
whether or not you need to have an open budget at your disposal to be able to
put together a halfway decent team. He has to find a way to assemble a
team that is greater than the sum of its parts and not just a bunch of star
players thrown together. Pitt conveys Beane’s exasperation at the injustice of
the system well and he makes it seem completely rational when he puts his career
on the line just to test out this newfangled system.

Brand
is the kind of character that would usually go to Jesse Eisenberg; not Jonah
Hill. He’s a super smart guy with little people skills and an all-consuming faith
in the merits of this system that everyone seems to scoff at. He’s taken
completely by surprise when Beane expresses an interest in what he has to say,
being more accustomed to people completely ignoring his existence. Hill is
decent as the unconfident and awkward geek even if he does occasionally border
on autistic.   

This
film is based on a true story and the filming style keeps that firmly in mind.
There’s plenty of footage of old baseball matches and some of the shots are similar
to those of documentaries. It’s an interesting technique and a perfect fit for
the film.

Baseball
novices will find a lot of the jargon flying way over their heads. The basic
theme – a man wanting to change the system and democratize it – comes over loud
and clear. However, if you don’t understand the technicalities of the new data
analysis system championed in the film, you may not appreciate just how
revolutionary this new approach was. 

Moneyball is very heavy on the dialogue
and unsurprisingly, the most exciting bits involve Brad Pitt negotiating deals
over the phone, and not any of the games. This is less of a film about the sport
and more about a guy trying to make over the unfair system that governs it.

Like This? Try

The Damned United, Coach Carter, Any Given Sunday

360 Tip

Spike Jonze makes a pretty hilarious cameo as Beane’s ex-wife’s socially awkward husband.

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