Moneyball stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the general manager of the baseball team the Oakland Athletics. After the club loses three key players, Beane is forced to craft a winning team with a limited budget and resources. He turns to Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill, who introduces him to advanced statistics and a new unconventional way to build a winning team. The film is based off the real-life Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics during the 2002 MLB season, as well as the book written in 2003 under the title Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.
The reason Moneyball is so enjoyable is because it is a baseball film that isn’t entirely about baseball. At times a non-baseball fan can be confused with some of the dialogue dealing with the statistical intricacies of the game, but Moneyball manages to keep the story engaging even for non-baseball fans. The film is primarily a drama, but adds good doses of comedy to help keep the pace of the film on track. The film is not only about Billy Beane’s attempt at creating a successful baseball team, but also his personal challenge for redemption. As someone who had previously failed to make it as a baseball player, he needs to show he can contribute something positive to the game he loves.
As a baseball fan, one of the more interesting scenes came earlier in the film, where Billy and Peter meet with the Oakland Athletics scouting team. The meeting turns into a clash of scouting styles, as the old-school scouts look to simply fill out positions with players they believe are good enough to replace the ones they lost. In contrast, Billy and Peter attempt to completely revamp the team, and instead of replacing the players they lost, they instead look to build the team in a different way. The scene really helps illustrate the change that occurred in real-life baseball during the team, as advanced statistics began to play heavily into scouting, and teams no longer needed to consist of simply the best players at their positions, but rather a group of individuals who work well together and can contribute in different ways.
If I could offer a criticism to the film, it would be towards the ending of the movie, which seemed very ill-placed. I was certainly not expecting the film to end at the point it did, and considering the emotional journey it had taken, it was unexpected to end it on such a low note. However, it is based around a true story, and it is difficult to end the film in a way that does not stay true to the true course of events.
All in all, Moneyball is a terrific film, enjoyable primarily for fans of baseball, but not alienating for those who have little familiarity with the sport.