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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Brilliance, Reality, Chills and Brad

Author: Lifeless10 from Pakistan
10 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Okay, first of all I'd like to tell everyone I'm from Pakistan and folks from Pakistan don't know a thing about baseball {we're more into cricket, hockey and football (soccer)}.

Moneyball has to be thee most anticipated movie about sports, passion, hard work and motivation and I'm pretty much blown away to see that this movie didn't get that much recognition as it deserves. I believe this movie stands equally with movies like "Million Dollar Baby" "Rocky" "Cinderella Man" "The Wrestler" "Raging Bull" and etc.

Brad Pitt as Billy Beane did an amazingly magnificent job and it'll be a disgrace if he's not nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant performance, the way he cloaked himself into the character it was just masterclass and on the other hand he's equally well supported by Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman (who by the way did an amazing job as well)

In my view, Moneyball is arguably second best sports movie ever made.

My Rating: 8.7/10

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good but very cerebral

Author: jeromec-2 from Canada
18 December 2011

I have heard it said that the most nerdy sport of all is baseball. I believe that to be true. If a math major is going to be interested in a game, the usual choice is baseball.

It is a statistician's delight. Hockey (by comparison) has only a few well known stats and few are published routinely. Hockey might be more exciting to watch, but baseball is a much tenser spectator experience. Will the pitcher out maneuver the batter or will the batter dominate the pitcher? The question hangs in the air as the pitcher absent mindedly scuffs the rubber on the mound and the batter takes a practice swing and sets his stance. Who wins, what are the odds, what history do these two have, how hot is the day, which way is the wind going, who's in a slump, who's not, who can throw nothing but blinding fastballs, who has a slider that looks like it can be hit into the parking lot of Yankee stadium until it winds up in the catcher's mitt? And as the seconds drag on, all these questions are discussed between people who may never meet again.

But these statistics are kindergarten level questions when Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) opens up his computer and starts really classifying data, using factorials, permutations, combinations and z scores and goodness knows what other statistical mysteries known only to the nerdiest of nerds.

Peter is the obvious genius, but there is someone else in the movie who is unusual. His skill certainly ranks above talent. He is driven primarily, it seems, by working a new angle in Baseball, an angle that he himself has no idea where to begin looking. Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) knows the answer is somewhere, but he does not know where. There has to be some way to replace the individual "hero" of baseball. If you loose someone like (say) Mickey Mantle in your line up, do you look for another Mantle or do you seek a collection of players that individually come no where near Mantle's skill and ability but as a collection of players who can add up to Mantle? Do you go for the individual or the group? Prior to Beane the answer was the Yankee model. You go for a Dimaggio to replace Ruth and Gehrig and a Mantle for a Dimaggio.

Beane changed all that when he looked for a group that could somehow work together and together do what looked like it was an impossibility: put together a winning team that was made entirely of average (affordable) players that collectively could deliver an amazing result, an unexpected one, one that would grab the imagination of a fan base that could not believe the results until records that had stood for years were broken. Day after day the fans were treated to a lengthening of the consecutive wins record. It gave them heart and it gave them courage.

The movie does the same thing. It is all metaphor for collective cooperation rather than individual heroics. We see a man who recognized the gift of someone else and was not at all threatened by it. The two central characters work with each other, each understanding what the other knew and each deeply respecting it.

I took off 2 points for the music at the end. I cannot imagine why the director used it. Nothing justifies it.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

How could you not be romantic about baseball? (...By not watching it, I suppose)

Author: Dharmendra Singh from Birmingham, England
28 November 2011

My only ever baseball experience was memorable for being unmemorable. I sat in what I was told was a 'bleacher' seat. In my native England, a bleacher seat would be a prime location from which to view a live game. But bleacher seats are so named because there is no roof covering them, allowing the sun to bleach the riff-raff who occupy them. I walked out before half-time (if indeed there was a halfway point).

Bennett Miller's 'Moneyball' has good and bad points, just like his 'Capote'. Sure, there are parts which engage, but there are also parts which repel.

Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, general manager of the real life baseball team the Oakland Athletics, or Oakland A's. They're a middle-of-the-road sort of a team, destined for nothing except mediocrity. After losing their big chance of winning a championship title, Beane has to sell some of his key players to keep the club financially stable. Only, if he does that he can kiss goodbye to any chance of winning anything again.

The intriguing thing about 'Moneyball' is that it takes us from the pitch, through the locker rooms and further until we get to the back office where the real game is played – a game of backhanders and backstabbing. 'Moneyball', I think, introduces to the screen the quirky concept of sport management via a computer.

The biggest reason why I can't recommend this film over other ones currently on release is Brad Pitt. When it comes to Beautiful Brad, I'm in a minority. I don't think he's a great actor. He's more a personality, as De Niro would say. If you look at his filmography, I bet you couldn't name a film where if he wasn't in it it would be a poorer picture for it. 'Fight Club' is as good as he'll ever be. And I bet my journalistic career that he will never win a competitive Oscar.

Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian's script is weak by their standards. There are lines of dialogue which stand out, but you can always spot good lines in an ordinary script. Zaillian is used to adapting his screenplays from books, whereas Sorkin has the skill to write one from scratch. The script isn't poor, you understand; it just isn't worthy of either man.

Beane's shrewdest managerial decision is to poach Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a player analyst from a rival team. He's a softly spoken, obsequious young man, who's a bit of a dark horse. He has an economics degree from Yale and understands baseball better than anyone else Beane has ever known.

Brand explains to Beane that throughout history baseball managers have been wrong. They are blinded by celebrity to the extent that they dismiss most players because of their age, appearance or personality. Brand persuades Beane that, if they view players as statistics rather than as celebs, they can assemble a championship-quality team. You could say that Brand is the brains behind the A's' recovery while Beane is the face. Naturally.

Sorkin or Zaillian (who knows which?) does manage to slip some nice dark humour into characters' lines. This along with Jonah Hill's performance would be a reason to watch the film. In real life he's an extrovert, so it must have been hell to speak only when spoken to. In one scene, Beane points to him all cool and managerial-like, tacitly wanting to him to confirm something he's said in a meeting. Brand points to himself and says 'Do you want me to speak?'. The whole audience loved this kind of gag.

A quick-fire negotiation scene featuring Beane and Brand is impressive. Or do they speak so quickly that the scene only seems impressive? Either way I won't be watching it a second time to find out.

The film focuses on too many different characters. It gets lost in its own details. Toning down the success the A's' go on to achieve would have made sense (20 consecutive wins, although true to life, is too schmaltzy to be taken seriously in a film). It's a sporting cliché otherwise.

The ending was a sell-out. I gather Beane wanted desperately to win with the A's. As a player he was as star manqué, so winning a championship with them as GM would be his salvation. The offer made to him by the Boston Red Sox was so similar. They, too, were a losing side who needed Beane to take them to a championship. He could have easily gone back to the A's; it's not like they would have turned him down. (The Red Sox used his (Brand's) model anyway and won the title without him.)

I don't want to sound like I hate Brad Pitt (I don't think anybody does), but I have to be honest. Speaking honestly, then, how long does the camera have to be held on Pitt's eyes before he sheds a tear? His way of conveying the regret his character has is to exercise more than any of the players and break a lot of things. Also, can anybody tell me why Pitt eats in virtually every scene of every film he's starring in lately? What kind of trademark is that? This is a man who topped a great actors poll above Brando a few years back. And people wonder why I'm so cynical about the state of cinema.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

On the Money

Author: jdesando from United States
23 September 2011

Here's an enjoyable sports film with history behind it and heart inside it. The facts: Under the general management of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) the Oakland A's achieved a phenomenal 20 game winning streak in the early part of this century. The cost: less than two thirds the expenditure of the Yankees. The real cost: players let go and Bean ridiculed, until his winning streak, which changed baseball forever.

Moneyball's heart is in Brad Pitt's gentle performance, the best of his career depicting Beane's cool assurance relying on the statistics that have always been available, rather than the guesses of his scouts. A major part of the success is the data-mining mind of Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a 25 year old Yale economics grad with a statistical approach that predicts the strength of players who have been marginalized or let go by other clubs. Sabermetrics is his creation, a strategy that builds on player strengths ignored by supposed experts.

Unlike most other sports films, even the storied Any Given Sunday, Moneyball delivers organically, just a slow series of setbacks that are nonetheless essential to eventual success. Although we know the outcome, director Bennett Miller strategically paces the early struggles to make you care about the characters, even the negatively traditional coach Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Where some other films may surpass Moneyball is their showing the reasons on the field for the team's success, whereas here only some locker room chat and brief counseling can be seen as contributory.

Like other sports films as well, the middle sags like Art's belly until the winning streak naturally enlivens the somber mood during the losses. Yet the film is exemplary in its feisty meetings as scouts square off against general manager Beane, who is slowly challenging their philosophies of status quo and intuition.

On that note is the real strength of a film that exalts both creative thinking and mathematical accounting. Yet never is any of this change made easy

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Too many dramatic pauses, slow. For die-hard baseball fans only.

Author: ashley-carden from United Kingdom
9 July 2012

I liked the idea of the film, I like Brad Pitt as an actor, and I love IT and statistics, and I love sport, so this film had all the ingredients for me right? Wrong... This was a much-laboured film, that could and should have progressed at 150% the speed at least. There were far too many self-indulgent shots of Brad Pitt from afar trying to evoke thought and understanding, it just didn't work, at least not for me. For the last hour, I wanted to know the outcome, but I also wanted to put the film on 2X speed, because there was simply no tempo. Even the excellent Seymour-Hoffman was unable to shine with a small part in this forgettable film. Without Pitt, I would have given this film a 2/10..

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Moneyball's appeal to a mass market audience trades depth and meaning for a feel good underdog story

Author: chaz-28 from Rockville, MD
10 October 2011

Baseball is the sport to follow if you love numbers. Almost every aspect of the game can be and is quantified by a percentage which both ball clubs and fans use to rank players. The science of ranking players using particular categories, specifically on base percentage, is the foundation for an analysis program known as sabermetrics. Moneyball never uses this term, but that is what they are talking about.

Moneyball tells the story of the Oakland Athletics' 2002 season. At the end of 2001, the A's lost the divisional playoff series to the Yankees and then their three superstars left for free agency. Compared to the Yankees and the vast majority of the rest of Major League Baseball teams, the Oakland A's were poor. They could not compete with the other clubs to put well known impact players on their roster. General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) pleaded with his scouts to come up with a new way to identify players instead of the usual way it had been done for the past hundred years or so, mostly gut instinct and the usual power numbers.

While in Cleveland on a bartering trip to replace the holes in his lineup, Billy meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a low level player analyst, who has some unconventional ideas about what it really takes to win games. To win games, you have to produce runs. To produce runs, you have to get on base, be it with hits or walks. Scouts and baseball crowds prefer hits since they are far more sexy than walks; however, they are one in the same to Peter Brand and Billy Beane quickly becomes an acolyte to this new way of thinking. Shifting focus to the most undervalued players in baseball, Oakland starts signing guys who are considered too old, sub-par fielders, and unimpressive at the plate. Not only does the scouting staff start to revolt, but the coach, Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) looks at Billy and his methods like they are from Mars.

Sabermetrics was not new in 2002, but no ball club ever put a team together using mostly stats before. Everybody expected them to lose, be at the cellar of their division, and for Billy to be fired at the end of the season. However, the 2002 season went in a different direction and produced some profound ripple effects throughout the rest of the league and how teams valued players afterwards. Moneyball is definitely a film for baseball fans and stat geeks. However, if you are not into baseball, you most likely will not enjoy Moneyball very much. There is limited on field action and a lot of detailed conversations about baseball methods with its corresponding jargon.

Moneyball is based on a 2004 book and is advertised as the true story of what happened in that 2002 season; however, there are a lot of dramatizations and changes. First of all, there is no Peter Brand in real life. In fact, Billy's Assistant General Manager joined the team in 1999 and was named Paul DePodesta. Mr. DePodesta did not like how they wrote his character in the script and asked that his name be changed. He argues that he was not only focused on statistics to shape the team.

I desperately wanted Moneyball to be an amazing film. I love baseball and I really enjoy reading and talking about baseball stats. Unfortunately, Moneyball is not a great movie, it is just OK. It lacks a certain weight and depth. Early scenes between Pitt and Hill could have been much deeper concerning their ideas to change the way the game is played, but they are light and choppy. Peter Brand never really gets a long monologue to explain just how his ideas could create a winning team from start to finish. Furthermore, the character of Coach Howe is ridiculous. Philip Seymour Hoffman spends his very limited screen time hurling out one word guttural answers and just looks ill. I know he was meant to disagree with the way the team was headed, but why make him look deathly pale and on the verge of a nervous breakdown?

See Moneyball if you are a baseball fan; you will enjoy the behind the scenes look at the scouting meetings and the shenanigans which go on at the trade deadline. However, be prepared for a light fiction film which can stray pretty far from what really happened that year.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Always feels fresh and alive

Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
1 October 2011

The first baseball game I ever saw was in Yankee Stadium when I was ten years old. At that time, the Yankees had players now considered baseball immortals: Phil Rizzuto, Joe Dimaggio, Tommy Henrich, Charlie Keller, and others. The Yankees closer was Joe Page who, when summoned into a game, always climbed over the bullpen gate like a little boy, awestruck with wonder. All were products of the traditional scouting system, operating without the benefit of knowing a player's slugging percentage, on-base percentage, or a pitcher's WAR (wins above replacement). Scouts had to recommend players based on past performance, personal observation, and something intangible - their best sense of who would and who would not make it in the major leagues. . Those days are past, however, and today every team uses a computerized analysis of a player's value called "sabermetrics," which is supposed to provide information such as how often a player will get on base. This new approach is dramatized in Bennett Miller's Moneyball, an entertaining and often moving film that may be an early contender for an Oscar Best Picture nomination. Adapted by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin from the book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis, the film stars the charismatic Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, a former player who became the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics in 1998, and who changed the game forever.

Using authentic recreations as well as archival footage, Moneyball opens in 2002, one year after the Oakland Athletics were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Yankees. As GM, Beane has the daunting task of replacing three of his key players, including Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi, who signed with Boston and New York. In flashbacks, we learn that the young Billy Beane (Reed Thompson) was heralded by scouts as a "five-tool" player who signed him out of high school in 1979, convincing him to give up a full scholarship to Stanford to play for the New York Mets. The scouts guessed wrong on this one and, after a brief and unsuccessful career as a player, he turned to scouting and then management.

Perhaps bitter about his history with scouts, he now chides his scouting staff for their efforts to find bargain replacements for his departed stars, and makes a plea to ownership for more money. Things take a sharp turn, however, when Beane has a chance meeting with Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an Economics graduate from Yale University, who is working for the Cleveland Indians. Brand is a disciple of Bill James, the man who developed sabermetrics and who had come to believe that a player's ability to get on base (on-base percentage) through a combination of hits and walks was more important to the team than just his batting average.

After Brand tells Beane that there's "an epidemic failure to understand what is really happening" in the game, Beane snatches him away from the Indians and appoints him as his personal assistant. Together, they use statistical analysis to seek out players whose value to other teams may have diminished, and who are now available at a lower price. Beane immediately receives strong opposition from his manager, Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a veteran who is also upset about his one-year contract, and some flack from his chief scout Grady Fuson (Ken Medlock), who feels threatened by the new approach and considers it detrimental to baseball.

Beane is depicted in the film as being volatile and aloof, unwilling to travel with the team for fear of becoming too close to the players. In spite of his cold exterior, however, the scenes with his ex-wife (Robin Wright), and his musically-talented teenage daughter (Kerris Dorsey) show him to be a warm and caring person. The game of baseball is his passion and, even when his team goes on a record breaking winning streak in 2002, he maintains that nothing matters to him except winning the final game and that his real goal is to change the way teams are constructed.

Supported by outstanding performances, especially those of Pitt and Hill, Moneyball stays away from sports clichés and always feels fresh and alive. Today, nine years after 2002, the year in which the film is set, sabermetrics has become an accepted part of the game. Unfortunately, however, in the same way that the quality of a film has become less important to the studios than its appeal to target audiences, baseball teams may have become too reliant on statistical analysis. While it can never completely reinvent the game, it extends its reach today, not only in the recruitment of players, but also in day-to-day decision-making where "playing the percentages" often trumps common sense.

Though statistics are useful as a tool, baseball will never be a science. It is a game of measureless intangibles, of emotion and desire, of late inning heroics and dramatic comebacks. Unscripted and unpredictable, it is a game of grace and skill, "a ballet without music, a drama without words." To a ten-year-old, "the stuff as dreams are made on." The poet Wordsworth asked, "Where is it now, the glory and the dream?" It is still there and will always be, but, perhaps like contemporary society, the scientist and the artist are struggling for its soul.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Terrible, TERRIBLE misleading film. Spoilers.

Author: takeyourpantiesoff from United States
9 June 2012

Once again Hollywood reinvents history.

Search the 2002 Oakland A's. Compare that roster to the 2001. There are four, even five names that are almost completely absent from this script, which is why this is a terrible movie.

This flick makes you believe that the A's were successful due to the free agent signings, trades and other moves made by Beane and co. Makes you believe? Make believe is more like it.

Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson were NOWHERE in this film. Oakland had a run of four to six years where these three horsemen were dominant in the American League. Their minor league coaches AND SCOUTS developed these guys. Their starting rotation was POWERFUL.

And how did the A's replace Giambi? They did not replace him in the variables, through out the lineup. To be blunt, they didn't. And with Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada batting 3, 4 they didn't really need to. Oh, and did I mention Mulder, Zito and Hudson?

I know the salary of the A's made a great headline but the truth is the A's were just in a baseball demographic where several talented young players all bloomed during the same period.

To suggest their success was due to Beane and their miser owner skimping on a few million here or there is ridiculous.

Oh, and the biggest joke of the movie was Brand dissing Johnny Damon. Did anyone watch ANY of the 2004 post season? I think he had a few hits in the 2007.

Overall this was a fun movie, I mean for a non fiction or just partially based on a true story.

But to tell this story, the way they did, in my opinion it should have been a little league tale. Something like, the big bad rich neighborhood lures away all the good players from a team and the coach has to go to all the poor neighborhoods to get players... Like Blue Chips. Ha ha.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Brad Pitt's best

Author: cathie454 from Albuquerque, NM USA
1 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Moneyball is the story of Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager, trying to compete against "the big boys" with a small budget team and no way to buy the players he needs. While visiting the Cleveland Indians' management trying to make deals for better players, he meets a young man on their staff who has devised a way to assign a numerical value to players based on their ability to get on base, rather than the more traditional ways that baseball players are rated. Instead of buying a player from the Indians, he hires the statistician and together they rebuild the A's team after the loss of three key players who move on to richer teams. Brad Pitt's performance is stellar; you forget that he's Brad Pitt and believe that he's Billy Beane, which is the true measure of a great actor. This is the best Brad Pitt has ever been in a roll, and he dominates every one of his scenes. Jonah Hill is excellent as the naive though brilliant statistician and Philip Seymour Hoffman shines as the team's head coach who butts heads with Beane time after time over the new way of staffing the team. People in the movie audience applauded when the A's won 20 games in a row; you could feel that the audience was totally "there" in the moment, because the actors make you believe you are seeing the true story of Billy Beane and the A's. Great movie, great acting, wonderful story that will keep you rooting for the A's even if you're a die-hard Yankee fan like myself.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Moneyball's worth the price fo admission

Author: vickkynight from United States
26 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoy movies, go to many festivals, as well as preview screenings, and I am enjoying posting the reviews on IMDb for all to see.

So far, I am only posting reviews of the films I have liked. Recently, I had the chance to see "Moneyball," and I've been meaning to post my review.

The main cast does a wonderful job, starting off with Brad Pitt, who will surely receive Oscar buzz for this role. Playing Billy Beane - a failed prospect of the New York Mets, but a G.M. with a chance to do something special - Pitt thrives. Although a successful talent evaluator, Beane is strapped by the financial constraints the Oakland team has put on him. Enter Jonah Hill.

Playing Peter Brand, a numbers guy, he teams up with Beane to change the entire approach to drafting players and signing free agents. The results make for a riveting movie that is as much about life as it is baseball.

Filmed in the style of a docudrama, Moneyball is one of the best in this style of film. Go see it, even if you're not a baseball fan. Very real, and it plays that way. While I enjoyed the ending very much, it certainly is NOT a Hollywood ending. See the movie, and you will know what I mean.

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