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Movie Review: Moneyball

Moneyball is a 2011 baseball themed drama. Based off the book of the same name, it follows Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics of 2001 and 2002. It stars Brad Pitt as Beane, as well as Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Bennett Miller, this movie was written by the famous Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Social Network, and a lot of other award winners).

In 2001, the Oakland Athletics fall short in the playoffs to the New York Yankees. With 3 key contributors (Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen) all becoming free agents, the A's are in for a tough offseason. Unable to squeeze any more funds out of ownership, general manager Billy Beane needs to find a new way to rebuild his team and be competitive in the coming season. Partnering with a sabermetrics focused college kid (Hill), Beane develops a new unpopular method for evaluating players on the cheap, in an unorthodox way.

So, it took me 8 years to watch this movie. Pathetic, between my movie background and long tenured love for baseball. Furthermore, I grew up being obsessed with baseball statistics (thank you MLB showdown card game), and so this is a movie I should have seen in theaters. I don't usually like baseball movies, because the intricacies of the game are difficult to relay on film. Inevitably baseball on screen usually falls short of how fun it is to watch, analyze, play, etc. Essentially, baseball movies are baseball lite, so they don't scratch the itch.

I should have been more open to Moneyball. I love The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin's masterpiece from the year prior. The man is one of the best writers in the industry. It was an oversight, and I greatly regret it.

Moneyball is a fantastic movie. Much like how Social Network adapted a confusing social media and copyright battle for average joes, Moneyball is a fascinating look into the inner workings of a desperate front office. It is accessible and understandable, without being dumbed down. In other movies, a bunch of phone calls and melodrama might be boring, but Moneyball is briskly paced and a story that is just well told. It is fast moving and clearly defined. Even the most basic stories become enthralling if well told. Moneyball is a well told story.

The acting is solid. Brad Pitt's always a strong presence. Jonah Hill is the pleasant surprise. Better known for fat guy pottymouth antics, he shows a new side in Moneyball as a brainy college baseball nerd. He starts off as the nervous kid in the room, and grows over the course of the film into Beane's right hand man. Honestly, his performance was my favorite part.

I can't really say there's much I didn't like about Moneyball. It's not a perfect movie, but there's no major flaws. Whenever it starts to drag, it's for a very short time. It doesn't have the same notable peaks that other award winners have. it's good through. out, but there aren't really a lot of noteworthy memorable scenes. As someone who knew the story, there wasn't a lot of twists or turns. I enjoyed it about as much as I would as a good documentary, which is neither a compliment nor a criticism. You can tell the difference between a David Fincher and a Bennett Miller. Acting and direction is decent, but it's an extremely well written film. Easily the best movie about a sports front office, and a top 10 baseball movie.

Moneyball: 9/10


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