Baseball has always been a gold mine for cinema. The romantic ideals of freshly cut grass and dirt covered baseballs provide the perfect backdrop for a competitive, but moving, piece of art. “Moneyball,” which was released last week, defies all of that- — and that’s the point.
At first glance, you might think “Moneyball” is just another baseball movie. Its trailer showcases an underdog Oakland A’s team that seemingly defies all odds and goes head-to-head with the Yankees and their Goliath-like payroll all while sprinkling some “Friday Night Lights” soundtrack bites in the background. But “Moneyball” is much more than a baseball movie — it’s a baseball movie that parallels the digital age we live in.
Directed by Bennett Miller, the film follows the ground breaking sabermetric approach General Manager Billy Beane used to construct his Oakland A’s roster that author Michael Lewis outlined in his novel of the same name in 2003.
Beane (Brad Pitt) discovered undervalued statistics to create an “island of misfit toys” that eventually went on to challenge the mighty Yankees and their $114,457,768 payroll. His approach was found to be so successful that it has been a common practice in baseball for over 10 years now.
The idea of “tools” and gut-instincts were thrown out of the window as Beane radically searched for a new approach to compete with the richer teams and unearthed one, as the film adaptation eloquently shows. With the information on the Internet just beginning to become a common idea, the A’s jumped ahead of the rest of the league and utilized the digital gold mine in front of them.
Pitt teams up with Jonah Hill, who surprises with his subtle and smart acting in his first major dramatic role, and the two come together to create one of the best acting duos of this year.
The film’s true heart lies in the writing, as industry greats Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian both had their hands on it at some point, delivering a smart and sleek script. The dialogue clearly demonstrates Sorkin’s mastery of his craft and feels as if it is the baseball-centric spiritual counterpart to the screenwriter’s other masterpiece and “The Social Network.”
Miller, who directed “Capote,” should be commended for taking a book as dense and stat-heavy as “Moneyball” and creating a film that not only strays away from the dry, statistical words in the novel, but delivers a beautifully shot film that invokes the emotions needed to create a Hollywood blockbuster.
Overall, “Moneyball” will be remembered for being the first intellectual-baseball movie. From the direction to the cinematography, “Moneyball” covers its bases.