Oscar Movie Review: Moneyball

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Aaaarrrrgghhhh!  I have a love/hate relationship with movies that leave me saying aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!  And googling questions and wishing I could talk to the writer.  Moneyball is soooo good.  But frustrating at the end!  Okay, okay, I’ll start at the beginning, not the end.

Brad Pitt plays the role of Billy Beane, the General Manager for the Oakland A’s.  His team has a very small budget compared to teams like the New York Yankees which means he can’t buy big name players.  In the “shopping” wars, he automatically loses – he just doesn’t have enough money and his owner tells him to “be satisfied with what he has”.  But Billy wants to win.  For Billy winning – and winning the last game – is all that matters.  It doesn’t matter that you “came close” or “gave it your all” or “did better than anyone expected”.  All that matters is winning the last game (the World Series Championship).

In a negotiation with another general manager, Billy notices a young unimpressive man, Peter Brand, who garners the attention and respect of the other general manager.  He approaches Peter and finds out that he is a Yale Economics major who uses the theories of Bill James to statistically choose players.  This method is contrary to the entire baseball system of scouting players by experienced judges of talent.  But Billy Beane is living proof that the scouting system didn’t work.  He was a highly recruited player who didn’t materialize into the star that scouts told him he would become.

With their limited budget Beane and Brand form a team of old guys, broken guys, and freaks.  They don’t win, in fact they lose and lose and lose some more.  Beane who has always steadfastly refused to get to know the players starts giving them advice, encouraging them, and learning their strengths.  He becomes involved.  With a few roster changes, things start to change and the team starts winning.  If you’re like me and don’t know the story, I don’t want to spoil it for you.  You’ll have to watch the movie and see what happens!

Warning:  this isn’t your usual “underdog” sports movie.  It’s more complicated than that.  Brad Pitt excellently portrays the emotional struggle of the general manager, Billy Beane.  Beane’s definition of success, definition of winning, being a father, having “worth” is all at play.  Pitt makes the audience want him to win, want him to smile, want him to be happy for a change.  He’s such a melancholy character – he doesn’t even watch his own team play… or win.  In fact, he thinks he would jinx them if he did watch.

So now the end.  And the frustration.  I watched the part where Brand shows Beane the player who is humiliated, thinking that he tried to run to second, slipped and fell, only to find out he’d actually hit a home run!  Brand is telling Beane to look – Beane hasn’t failed.  Beane thinks he lost but in reality he hit a home run!  Then.  Then.  The ending!!!  Aarrrggghhh!  Listen to the lyrics of Bean’s daughter’s song.  Tell me what you think.  What did she mean?  Why did she choose those words?  Aaarrrgggghhhh!  I don’t get it and it’s so frustrating when I don’t get it.  But it makes for a good movie….

Moneyball was nominated for 4 Golden Globes – Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay.   Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 95% Fresh rating and it’s available on DVD at Redbox.

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