Money Ball tells the real-life story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), a young Baseball General Manager for the Oakland Athletics, and Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a just-graduated economics major. Beane’s team just lost the AL playoffs, and he loses his three best players to rival teams with bigger pocket books. Hill has a crazy idea to use numerical statistics to pick players. The combination will set the world of baseball on its head as bargain-priced players deemed washed up, too old or minimally talented combine to take the team to a championship.
Right off the bat (no pun intended), you might think this movie will appeal only to diehard baseball fans. In fact, I think you will enjoy the movie a bit more if you aren’t a huge baseball fan because diehard fans know the real-life outcome while others will be on the edge of their seats wondering how things will play out (again no pun intended).
Fan or not, knowing the ending or not, you’ll enjoy Pitt’s and Brand’s portrayal of these characters. The acting is what really carries this movie. Seeing the pressure these two go through trying to do something they believe in while everyone else tells them it can’t be done is really inspiring. Even though Pitt’s character tries to portray himself as unconcerned with outside naysayers, the movie shows how much it really weighs on him - something I think all of us can relate to.
Another interesting part of this movie is its focus not just on the players and their quest to win games but also on the inner-workings of a sports team. You don’t just have a bunch of guys thrown together who magically bond over time and win games. You have all kinds of inner-workings that get explored in some depth in this movie which make for a nice twist. For instance, the dynamic between the General Manager (Pitt) responsible for building the team and manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who has to coach those players to win games. When the two don’t see eye-to-eye, it makes for some interesting maneuvers.
If I had to knock the movie for anything, I would cite the length and the times where the pace drags a little bit. Director Bennett Miller seems to have taken great strides to portray those real-life events as accurately as possible, which can sometimes translate into lulls on the big-screen. I don’t know if I would put this movie up there with other baseball greats like The Natural, but it comes pretty close. Watching Brad Pitt in this movie, I couldn’t help but think how much he reminded me of Robert Redford.