With the brute force of a fastball and the finesse of a well-aimed curve, Moneyball pops the leather with a triumphant true story about finding worth in uncommon places.
That uncommon place in Moneyball is within the world of professional baseball, specifically the Oakland A’s, a small market team that found itself struggling to compete after the end of the 2001 season in which it was due to lose three of its biggest star players to deeper-pocketed teams like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
Enter former player and now frustrated general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), to whom we’re introduced groveling at the feet of A’s ownership. Unable to convince them to dedicate more resources to the team, Beane turns to the brainy, number crunching Yale graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who deploys the dismissed theories of baseball statistician Bill James to field a team that fits a certain computer-driven model of statistical analysis based on under-valued worth.
Certainly unconventional, the theory of going after players overlooked and dismissed by the rest of baseball begins to pay off by not only how the team starts playing on the field, but how Beane would eventually gain a new understanding of himself that transcended the game and ultimately lead him to a newer, brighter place.
Writers Steven Zaillian and Alan Sorkin intercut scenes of Beane’s past when he was being courted as a can’t-miss major league prospect, with his present, where he’s once again up against an overwhelming task. This time, competing against other GMs with bigger budgets. We also learn of a broken marriage to his ex-wife (Robin Wright) and of the pre-teen daughter (Kerris Dorsey) who may not be getting the attention from her father she deserves. Beane’s always been the underdog. He’s always lost. But now he’s willing to take the risk and turn the odds against the house. With statistics on his side and a gaggle of misfits (though that’s not exactly correct) on his roster, Beane sets a course towards an outcome that would challenge the entire baseball system.
Pitt and Hill are fantastic on screen together. Set up as opposites, Pitt’s Beane is explosive and unpredictable, Hill’s Brand laconic and no-nonsense. Though each has certainly done so successfully in the past, most recently Hill in 2010’s Cyrus, each actor takes a considerable risk by stepping out of his familiar skin into a role quite the opposite of what we’re used to seeing them play. The Beane/Brand interplay certainly works here and subsequently represents an entertaining push/pull dynamic while eating up a huge chunk of the movie. Good thing too, because at two plus hours, there’s a lot of chunk to eat. And though Michael Lewis’ book, from which the film was adapted, is more about the system and doesn’t really care too much about the characters, thankfully Bennett Miller’s film manages to carve an entertaining narrative and dramatic arc from amongst the numbers. Still though, some of the film’s moments may be a bit too tedious for non-baseball fans.
Hoffman’s turn as acerbic A’s manager Art Howe is a mystery. Initially unavailable due to scheduling reasons, Hoffman eventually stepped in to the role, but he’s unfortunately wasted. In addition to the fact that he looks nothing like the slim 6 foot 3 incher, we don’t get enough of his stubborn foil to Beane’s cocksureness. Was he only available for shooting for a few days?
Sorkin worked wonders with his The Social Network script by crafting it into a blistering true story about friendship, mistrust, and greed. And though his Moneyball script has a few too many “grand message” moments and isn’t quite forthcoming in revealing the long-term sustainability of the statistics-based plan, he still manages to knock a ground-rule double off the top of the outfield wall with an underdog story about how people should be judged by what they do rather than what they should do.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some strong language.
Director: Bennett Miller
Writer: Steven Zaillian and Alan Sorkin
Cast: Brad Pitt; Jonah Hill; Philip Seymour Hoffman; Robin Wright
Genre: Drama | Sports
Memorable Movie Quote: "There are rich teams, then there are poor teams. Then there's 50 feet of crap. And then there's us."
Tagline: What are you really worth?
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Official Site: www.moneyball-movie.com
Release Date: September 23, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date: January 10, 2012
Plot Synopsis: Based on a true story, Moneyball is a movie for anybody who has ever dreamed of taking on the system. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball's conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, Beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs. The onetime jock teams with Ivy League grad Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) in an unlikely partnership, recruiting bargain players that the scouts call flawed, but all of whom have an ability to get on base, score runs, and win games. It's more than baseball, it's a revolution – one that challenges old school traditions and puts Beane in the crosshairs of those who say he's tearing out the heart and soul of the game.
Available on Blu-ray - January 10, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live
Playback: Region Free
With a dynamic 1080p transfer, it is safe to say that Moneyball is another homerun from Sony. The fine detail in this puppy is bold and crystal clear. Facial scars, clothing details, and misplaced hairs are all noticeable and brilliantly clear throughout. The colors are warm and bold. Shadows are deep and never overwhelm the picture with unnecessary crush. The green and yellows of the Oakland A’s uniform absolutely pop with color and the field is alive with fresh-feeling green of turf. Nothing about this release is unnatural or overly stylized; a nice change of pace. Also noticeable is a good layer of grain which makes this a worthwhile cinematic feature. The sound is presented in a great and fully robust DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that accentuates the picture perfectly and its many environments.
- None. This is becoming an alarming norm for BR releases and I do not like it much.
There are two solid featurettes that have the cast and crew and the real life Billy Beane talking about the film and/or the history behind the film. Neither is that revelatory, but they are good supplementals to the film. The meat and potatoes of the release are the 20 minute long bonuses that go into how the film was put together and the lengths they went to recreate the game and certain plays for the film. Good and interesting stuff about how sports films are made. There is one extended blooper in which Pitt can’t find the focus to keep his cool and laughs endlessly over Hill’s comment. There are also three deleted scenes – Billy Tells Art: Play Bradford, Tara and Billy Dinner, and Peter Offered GM Job – that are interesting as they complete the narrative, but fairly inconsequential to the happenings. With BD-Live functionality and a preview of MLB The Show, Moneyball is a pretty good slider.
- Blooper -- Brad Loses It (3 min)
- Deleted Scenes (12 min)
- Billy Beane: Re-Inventing the Game (16 min)
- Drafting the Team (21 min)
- Moneyball: Playing the Game (20 min)
- Adapting "Moneyball" (16 min)
- MLB 12 The Show Preview Trailer (1 min)