‘Moneyball’ entertains more than just baseball fans

When general managers of Major League Baseball teams select their rosters, many of the choices are based solely on guts or instincts. Billy Beane relies, however, on something more concrete—statistics. Based on a true story and a book by Michael Lewis, Director Bennett Miller’s Moneyball tells about the 2002 Oakland Athletics General Manager Beane (Brad Pitt), a former Major League player, who is coaching an under-funded, losing team. Don’t be fooled by that introduction; the film is not just for baseball fans. It’s actually more about the business and mathematics behind the players than the players themselves, but the film is still worth the running time. Tired of losing and needing better players since his best were recruited by richer teams, Beane turns to the assistant general manager of the team, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Brand is a quiet man, often keeping his opinions to himself, but he is valuable due to his algorithms regarding the baseball statistics that are familiar to him. Player by player, they slowly build the A’s into a team worthy of almost any tough competitor. Because the players who are being recruited are undervalued and seem to be useless additions, the manager of the team Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) ridicules Beane’s and Hill’s efforts. The controversial methods eventually prove Howe wrong and lead to a twenty game winning streak that breaks the American League record. Many scenes in this movie turn out to be quite humorous, both intentionally and ironically, reminiscent of Bull Durham (1988) without all the promiscuity. Some sadness encroaches on the film’s overall content through Beane’s failed marriage and his relationship with his daughter, both elements of the story that remain part of an undeveloped subplot. As was stated earlier, little of this movie actually zeroes in on the logistics of the game of baseball. Time spent on the field is rare, but it makes for a well-played scene on such occasions. Much of the film revolves around the dialogue of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin ( A Few Good Men , The Social Network ), which can be defined as dry, witty humor. Baseball is a sport that mainly revolves around tradition, but Moneyball dares to break out of that tradition to do something unorthodox that sets the stage for many years of sports movies to come. Overall rating: 8/10