After reaching a bit too late for the 9:50 pm show and quite a bit early for the 10:35 pm show, being a cheap Desi I decided to sneak into Screen 2 where the Bollywood movie Mausam was playing. Two minutes of cacophonic nonsense in the name of a song on Punjab’s Sarson ka khet convinced me that the silence of the Screen 3 where Moneyball would be screened was a safer place to retreat. By the way, Screen 2 was nearly full.
Ah! I digress…
Moneyball is a sports-drama based on the true story of Baseball team Oakland Athletics’ General Manager Billy Beane.
The Bennet Miller directed Moneyball stars Brad Pitt, who is also one of the producers of the film. Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman make up the rest of the major cast.
2011 summer and early fall season have been relatively sober. Most of the promising Hollywood movies fell flat.
But today, thankfully Aurora Balaji granted me my wish for an enriching experience.
As I mentioned earlier, Moneyball is a Sports Drama / Biopic of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the General Manager of the Baseball team Oakland Athletics.
The movie opens predictably with Oakland Athletics losing not only their knock-out game but also three of their best players to other teams.
The GM Billy Beane faces the daunting task of rebuilding the team despite a severe budget constraint which limits his ability to have high-value / expensive players in the team.
Billy meets a nerdy economist Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) and gets interested in Peter’s approach of using statistical analytics and logic to evaluate players and team composition rather than popularity and other subjective attributes. This approach reduces cost while theoretically retaining the capability of the team despite the loss of major players.
Billy hires Peter and adopts the unconventional approach to rebuild the team much to the ire of the traditionalist scouts and the coach.
The Baseball season starts and Oakland A’s lost most of their early games. The Coach (Phillip Hoffman) does not believe in the players and most people write off this team before Billy engineers a turnaround.
The rest of the movie is about how Billy turns the team around and whether they go on to win the last match or not.
What I liked
* Excellent writing, tight screenplay, brilliant acting and purposeful direction.
* Moneyball is a thoroughly enjoyable movie even if you have no idea of the difference between Baseball and Volleyball. The movie is all about what happens behind the scenes around the management of the Game.
* Although Moneyball is not your regular popcorn flick and theme of the movie is serious, Bennett Miller has done a fabulous job in keeping the mood light with adequate doses of practical, situational and tongue-in-cheek humor.
* A couple of scenes that I really enjoyed included the one where Billy shares a few awkward moments with his ex-wife and her husband while waiting for her daughter. The formal small talk combined with nervy uneasiness was brilliantly captured. The other scene involving Billy trading players with other teams was insightful.
* All the scenes involving the Game were electrifying, especially the nail-biting penultimate game.
* Instead of adopting the more conventional and popular happy ending, MoneyBall’s ending is realistic. Perhaps, it is because of the fact that it is a true story.
* Fine camera-work and a minimalist background score make most of the scenes very realistic.
What I didn’t like
There were few points to complain about in Moneyball considering that it’s based on a true story. But if I were to pick on the not so interesting aspects of the movie then it has to be Billy’s family angle.
All scenes involving Billy’s family seemed unnecessary. I assume it was added to give Billy’s character more purpose, depth and dimension but those scenes added nothing but duration.
Brad Pitt hits the ball out of the park!
I am not a huge fan of Brad Pitt but his acting in Money Ball made me sit up and take notice. He has embodied the character of Billy Beane. At no point did I realize I was watching a star.
Jonah Hill plays the second fiddle nerdy analyst role to near perfection and Phillip Hoffman as the Coach is adequate.
Moneyball is a fine movie – Thoroughly entertaining and engrossing for the most part irrespective of what you know or don’t know about Baseball.
Spend your weekly pocket money of 10 bucks on Moneyball instead of Mausam if at all you plan to watch a movie this weekend.
This movie is on my watch list as well.
Key point you missed is that it’s based on the best seller book by Michael Lewis (a must read for any sports fan or anyone else).
SI should review the book which really opened the realm of running sports teams based on statistics and using technology to the general audience.
Lewis was not the first writer to write on this but like Dan Brown the first to capture the audience in the genre.
Unfortunately I have not read that book. Reading exhausts me. 🙂
Also, I know as much about Baseball as I know about Nuclear Physics and Genetic Engineering i.e. nothing.
somewhat on-topic: One good way to learn baseball is through http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_sport. I can now claim that I know more about baseball facts and figures than most Americans..
off-topic: SI, Spielberg’s Terra Nova is debuting tonight on Fox TV .. at least the first episode will be good, I think..
The Wiki profile of Terra Nova looks interesting.
Let’s see if we can remember to turn on the telly at 8PM ET tonight.