Bennett Miller's 2011 film Moneyball seems so niche -- and at times so confusing -- that it could only hope to appeal to those already interested in the subject matter. The beauty in this film, however, is its mass appeal.
Centered around baseball's rebel general manager, Billy Beane, the film depicts a semi-fictionalized chain of events that led to Beane essentially remaking the system teams had always relied on to scout new players. Brad Pitt stars as Beane, the unconventional Oakland A's GM who is tasked with assembling the 2002 team with a budget significantly lower than the competitors'. Beane, who is wary of old scouting techniques that include relying on assumptions such as "an ugly girlfriend means he's got no confidence," recruits Jonah Hill's Peter Brand to help him rethink team assembly via sabermetrics. Sabermetrics -- a form of baseball analysis utilizing on-base percentage -- proves to be unorthodox but entirely effective, and the film follows Beane and his group of underdogs as they prove the curmudgeonly scouting world wrong and enter a winning streak that leads to the 2002 American League West title.
Although chockful of technical baseball terminology and references that would go over most people's heads, Moneyball rivals 1988's Bill Durham in its ability to combine a well-beloved sport that is often taken for simpler than it is with an underdog story that isn't cloying. Jonah Hill's timid yet astoundingly motivated Peter Brand perfectly foils Brad Pitt's rebellious Beane for a dramatic interpretation of one of the most unexpected comebacks in baseball history. Even if you're more interested in the food and watered-down beer than the actual baseball game, Moneyball is still a rare film that sports fans and sports haters alike can enjoy -- in part due to the script's ability to explain arcane and esoteric concepts. Moneyball shows the reality of baseball: with little depiction of actual playing, the film chooses to focus on the stats and decisions that make professional baseball as much a business as it is a sport.
Moneyball is now available to stream on Netflix.
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Amazon Prime Video:
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