Saturday, June 30, 2012

#1: Moneyball

I love sports movies. The drama of the game and the emotions of the players usually gets me every time. It's not often that you watch a sports movie that's not about the players.  Moneyball is one of those movies, but it still holds all the drama and emotion of a traditional sports film.

Brad Pitt is Billy Beane, a former player turned scout turned GM for the Oakland A's. In 2001, he shook up MLB by choosing players based on the advice of an economics graduate from Yale named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Billy didn't have a lot of money to spend on superstars, so he had to figure a way to build a winning team on a budget. This was his way. It wasn't received well, and it had a rocky start, but there wouldn't be a movie starring Brad Pitt if everything had been perfect, right?

The movie, at times, feels more documentary than narrative, and I like that. When you're behind-the-scenes you really want to feel like you're peering into a world you're not usually allowed to see. As with most sports movies, I found myself completely getting into the Big Game scene. I sat on the edge of the sofa, bated breath, just waiting for the outcome. I tend to completely lose myself in a good cinematic sporting event, and this one did not disappoint.

Pitt, channeling Robert Redford like nobody's business, does an excellent job. He carries the humor, humility, frustration, and quiet gratification of Billy Beane throughout the story. It was also nice to see that Jonah Hill can indeed play serious. I was actually worried that his performance would resemble Owen Wilson's attempt at playing straight (which comes across as sarcastic). Hill fits comfortably, and I never laughed at him at inappropriate times.

If you're a fan of baseball, definitely see this movie. If you're a fan of the underdog, see this movie. It's heartwarming, a bit inspiring, and all around well done.

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