Film Review: Moneyball
Billy Beane is the general manager of Oakland Athletic. He struggles to compete with Oakland’s rivals, as there is little money to spend on new players. To gain an advantage, Billy must be creative. Meeting Peter Brand, Billy decides to use statistical data to analyse a player’s worth…
Moneyball works as a sports drama because it does not demand too much from its audience. The beauty of Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian’s screenplay is that it makes the concepts of the film understandable without feeling like it has been dumbed down. Even those with little knowledge or interest in baseball will be able to get into the film. Moreover, the data analysis aspect is depicted in enough detail for viewers to comprehend the strategy, without weighing the film down with unnecessary explanation. There could have been an issue with the amount of expository dialogue, but thankfully Sorkin and Zaillian handle this ably.
Director Bennett Miller paces the film rather well. Moneyball gets off to a bit of a slow start, but recovers well. At times, the film can be surprisingly gripping. Nevertheless, the film is not overly emotional. The film lacks the high drama so often pivotal to sports dramas. Audience are not required to make a strong emotional investment in Moneyball. Rather than this being wholly negative, it is actually refreshing to see a film of this kind not resort to theatrics in order to coerce the audience to feel something forced.
Part of the reason the film takes this attitude is undoubtedly down to the protagonist. Billy Beane is a character who appears quite normal, with few distinguishing features. The film focuses so much on his character, yet he is an ordinary guy, despite his ambitions. The supporting characters share his normality; there are no real outlandish types in Moneyball. The film retains a layer of authenticity throughout.
Brad Pitt offers a decent performance as Beane. There is nothing particularly powerful or memorable about his performance, however. Philip Seymour Hoffman is stronger as Art Howe, and Jonah Hill offers good support in his limited role. Kerris Dorsey is great as Beane’s daughter Casey, bringing life to their interactions.
Moneyball is slightly repetitive with its frequent driving sequences. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable rendition of real events that remains grounded.