Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Movie Review: Moneyball (2011)

"The first rule of Moneyball is, you do not talk about Moneyball."
Moneyball rocks. It's well filmed, well written, well acted, and the theme song is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. The cinematography was reminiscent of Ben Affleck's loving filming of Boston, especially the medium shots with Oakland scenes in the distance. The acting is top-notch: in the same way that Tom Cruise became Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire, Brad Pitt is completely believable as Billy Beane, a real-life baseball GM determined to "change the game," and finds a recent Yale econ grad to help him do it. Pitt gets a lot of choice laugh-out-loud lines, but Beane's earnest dedication to improving baseball shines through in every scene. Do I hear Oscar? And by the way, there's a picture of Billy Beane on Wikipedia, and how stoked must he be that Brad Pitt plays him? It's kind of like having Lucy Liu play me, except not. Also, kudos to Jonah Hill for holding his own against Brad Pitt's overwhelming hotness and charisma.

There's a lot of tension, too, if you haven't been following baseball since the turn of the century. Because the film is based on a real person and real events, the typical narrative expectation got overturned, namely the one where a team of misfits gets together, gets lucky, gets positive attention, then has to face a serious challenge that the now-friends then overcome. Not here! They get the crap beaten out of them, and they get traded all over the place. Baseball management has never been so exciting, especially when a new Assistant GM has to tell a player he's been traded and they do the 10-second Stare of Awkwardness. Fun times!

There are also fantastic juxtapositions of Beane's past throughout the film, which gives viewers some insight into why he wants to replace a scouting system that he thinks is fundamentally flawed. And of course, the games are exciting!

This film is highly recommended!