When I heard that the non-fiction book Moneyball was becoming a feature film, I was quite skeptical because the topic focused heavily on statistics and I couldn’t imagine how intriguing a film about the Oakland Athletics can be knowing that they haven’t won a championship since 1989 while the book focused on the 2002 team. I love Brad Pitt and I think that he is the sole reason why I wanted to watch the film, but I just didn’t get the chance at the end of last year. But in the craziness of early parenthood, I found some in-between time and I sat down to finally give this film a chance, and I must say that I enjoyed it very much.
The film made a successful attempt at meshing the statistical analysis while still focusing on the humanity of Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, the general manage of the Athletics, and his staff and players. In the book, I recall little being said about Beane’s personal life for Michael Lewis did not write it as a biography, but more as a sports piece, so I was thankful that Pitt was able to bring Beane to life in ways that I sensed and envisioned him to be beyond the words of the page. As a baseball fan, I’ve read numerous articles about Beane and his A’s and even before watching the film I’ve always admired him for his courage to stick with the lowly A’s and fight an unfair game with new and radical ideas that continue to change the way baseball is perceived and played, and Pitt did an admirable job at portraying such. He didn’t blow me away, which was more of the script’s fault, but he did well at allowing the character’s emotional struggle to permeate the screen and help the viewer feel what he was feeling. He was wonderful and fun to watch as was his sidekick, Jonah Hill.
What was also amazing was that there wasn’t much baseball being played in the film. Normally, such sports films lead the viewer through the ups and downs of the player or team which then culminates into the big championship game with heroes emerging with spectacular and eye-watering plays and performances. This was not the case, for the camera was always focused on Beane and how everything around him was affecting him, which was a very refreshing take on the underdog type of film. I normally stay away from underdog sports films because they’re obviously predictable and a poor venue for making yourself feel all emotional and feel-good for a very short while. However, such films as this and the recent Warrior have done an excellent job at presenting the underdog genre with new and intriguing angles that go beyond the sport and focus on the deeper struggle within. Watching Moneyball has given me a greater appreciation for films such as The Mighty Ducks, The Karate Kid, Remember The Titans, and many others. I think it’s a game changer and shows the right way in how to make a good sports film.
Lastly, I also have to say that the soundtrack was excellent and fitting for the ups and downs of Beane and the A’s. Nothing too dramatic, but fitting in a mellow, yet uplifting sense with great soft electrics. Watching it made me wish that I had a personal soundtrack that blasted through the air to back me up in life’s momentous occasions.
All in all, a great film that documents the struggle of a man trying to win an uphill battle. I give this a 7.5/10.
On a side note, I have grown to dislike Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball, because it helped to usher the rise of statistical analysis and the influx of data into the education system. It influenced the need to quantify students, teachers, and schools to evaluate them in the name of change and improvement. There is some good to this, but it dehumanizes the student and teacher and is limited in trying to quantify the intangible. This movie actually tried to do the opposite by showing that there are actual people and families that are behind such statistics, which in turn helped remind me that there are kids behind the facade of just being my students. My students are real living people, and it’s quite sad that teachers are trained to see and think the opposite.