Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, and Christ Pratt
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 133 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Coarse language

Based on a 2003 book called Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, this film tells the story of the Oakland Athletic baseball team, and its manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt).

Billy hires a numbers man, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who is an economics graduate from Yale University, to help him rebuild the team. Brand advocates the unusual strategy of mathematically analysing players in ways that have not been done before, and he uses statistical analysis to capitalise on the team’s strengths. The method brought the Oakland team to a series of 20 winning games in a row, and came to revolutionise the way America thought about baseball.

The film’s focus on method essentially makes it a thinking movie. The underdog team succeeds against all expectation, and shows that there is a rational path to doing very well. The film is not just a sports movie. It combines intelligence with play, and the story aims to counter the common conception that money is always needed to buy the best players.

It is rescued from obscurity by the wider issues that it raises, its overall quality, and the impressive acting of its cast. It is hard these days for Brad Pitt to turn in a poor performance, and he excels in the role of Billy Beane.

With the focus on how statistics can shape success, the question to ask about the movie is whether it loses, or maintains, the thrill of the sport. The film never loses the sense of a team pulling together for a purpose, and illustrates effectively how determination and intelligence can win the day.

The film has a lot of positive messages, has tight scripting and editing behind it, and has the added advantage of containing minimal sex and hardly any drinking, which is unusual for a lot of sports movies. Also, there are no drug peddling, assaults, or graphic violence.

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