I'm not friends with Billy Beane or his former assistant Paul DePodesta. In fact, I've never even met either of them. But if their real life relationship was as charming and quirky as Moneyball's onscreen portrayal of the odd couple, then I may have been missing out.
The Columbia Pictures docudrama set to hit theaters next week chronicles the 2002 Oakland Athletics and their rogue GM Billy Beane. The film, adapted for the screen by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, is based on the book by Michael Lewis.
Moneyball spins a tale built on true events of Beane and his young, brash, assistant Peter Brand (who's real name is Peter DePodesta), as they attempted to construct a competitive team using what little resources they were allowed. With the lowest payroll in the league, the duo began relying heavily on statistics such as on-base percentage, runs scored, and many of the statistics that populate todays game. Together, they break the mold on what scouts and experts had bought into for years.
Throughout the film, their radical -- and sometimes crazy -- maneuvers begin to win over the baseball world, as well as the audience in the theatre. Pitt turns in a masterful performance, nailing the neurotic Oakland GM on the head, while Jonah Hill showed extreme depth with his portrayal of Brand.
Pitt’s representation of a baseball lifer was very much believable, and his ability to deliver his lines in between spitting wads of chewing tobacco into a paper cup was a pretty nice touch for the baseball lovers. Ironically though, Pitt’s finest moments as Beane were actually parts during which he says nothing at all, and the camera is capturing raw emotion. There are even scenes that stretch on for full minutes, where Beane says nothing, but displays everything. It was moments like these that helped the film come to life, as the audience lived and died with him on this roller coaster of a season.
The dialogue itself was crisp and well executed complete with well thought out comedic timing. Coupled with the laughs were real moments of drama and emotion. By the end of the film, despite your city of origin or team of faith, you find yourself really pulling for Beane and the A's. ((Spoiler Alert: When Scott Hatteberg, one of the main characters focused on by the book and film, steps up to the plate and deposits a home run into right field to win the A's 20th consecutive game, the hair on the back of your neck will rise as Oakland's names get etched into baseball history.))
Moneyball will probably not dominate the box office like the Titanic did, but for another movie with an ending that anyone who might see it will certainly already know, the film provides unparalleled drama. ((Spoiler Alert 2: The A's do not end up winning the World Series in 2002, and unfortunately still have been denied the champagne shower under Beane's reign, but man, do you bleed green and gold by hour two.))
The only criticism I have of Moneyball is that many of the actors who portrayed baseball players and coaches didn't look the part. Art Howe and Ron Washington were too fat, Carlos Peña and Eric Chavez were too short, and I think Miguel Tejada will wonder where his nice tan went. However, the filmmakers spliced in some amazing footage and brought the baseball scenes back to life with the memorable calls and plays from the real events.
All in all it was a job well done. As a Bay Area native I felt thatMoneyball captured the scrutiny of the media as they heavily criticized Beane as well as the excitement of the community as the A's pushed 100 wins on the season. The film was a breath of fresh air from your typical cliché sports movie and is well worth the time. In a few words,Moneyball is simply...money.