As the rest of America is getting ready to see Moneyball for the first time, I just got back from watching it for the second time and I must say, I have had two different impressions of it.
I had already read the book a while back, so the first time I saw it I was trying to pinpoint the accuracy of the book to the movie. I didn’t really grasp the film for what it could be as a film until I saw it the second time. And it’s with that second showing did I really understand how wonderful this film is.
The movie doesn’t focus on the action on the field, but it’s a story about Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and his quest to find a way to beat the same system cut short his professional career. It’s his personal quest to find himself and his own value to baseball not as a player, but as a general manager.
What makes this film so unique is that it’s all about the numbers of sabermetrics. It’s statistics that fantasy baseball nerds will love — but the movie explains it in a way in which the common person can even understand it.
And with that simple introduction, we see how the low budget A’s can somehow compete with the mega teams of baseball despite losing key stars to free agency. How can crunching numbers and finding value in undervalued players lead to a Hollywood film?
You take the wit of Brad Pitt and the comedic seriousness of Jonah Hill and you get a combination that gives the film the spark it needs. The dialogue in the movie may be hard to grasp for the non-baseball fan, but the emotions of trying to beat Goliath is still there. You sit in the theater hoping that the A’s do come out on top. You are rooting for that underdog.
The A’s go through the season as the story of the year, highlighted by an American League record 20-game winning streak.
But the movie, much like the book, doesn’t offer that great happy ending with a championship. In fact, the ending of the season is actually a harder disappointment to swallow than of the previous seasons.
What this movie offers is a slight glimpse of hope for the future. Billy Beane knew that the task was not easy, but he still believes that what he did was something that can work. And even though it didn’t result in a championship, it still can make the average fan cheer and hope that Beane does win it someday.
It won’t make you jump out of your chair as if you were at the ballpark, screaming and cheering your hearts out. But at the end, much like a baseball game, when you see Beane exiting off the screen, you stand up and give him a standing ovation. Because he gave us all he’s got, and that’s what we appreciate from the underdog.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman