Tuesday, February 7, 2012


i've got zero knowledge about baseball. i don't even know the basics about scoring. but i've been working in a research and consulting firm since time immemorial, (i'd like to believe) i know pretty much how to look at data and actually make sense of it. so when i got to see moneyball, with brad pitt in his finest form since 12 monkeys, the dodgy (at least to me) subject of baseball became altogether interesting.

according to sony pictures, moneyball is a movie for anybody who has ever dreamed of taking on the system. brad pitt stars as billy beane, the general manager of the oakland A's and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball's conventional wisdom is wrong. forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs. the onetime jock teams with ivy league grad peter brand (jonah hill) in an unlikely partnership, recruiting bargain players that the scouts call flawed, but all of whom have an ability to get on base, score runs, and win games. it's more than baseball, it's a revolution - one that challenges old school traditions and puts beane in the crosshairs of those who say he's tearing out the heart and soul of the game.

what's interesting about moneyball is its two pronged success. it was able to put in an entertaining but academic and almost nerdy account of how statistics actually and directly translated to performance and financial success of the team, as well as how strategy and implementation actually came together to bring fruition to an otherwise stupid measure of assembling a team made up of not-so-good or has-been players. on the other hand, moneyball also has something for the cinematic diehards… but it was just the right amount of inevitable gushiness. pitt's beane was heading to a life in baseball without any concrete achievements. beane failed as a professional athlete and then turned into a scout and then became an underperforming general manager. with his team-up with peter brand, he was able to redeem himself and essentially became an modernizer of how team managers look at the game of baseball. it was easy to get engrossed and just focus on beane's failed marriage and include some sappy tearjerkers courtesy of the scenes with his daughter. good thing, the movie didn't have any of those. it was both fun and deadpan at the same time.

while jonah hill was effective in being "jonah hill", his onscreen partnership with brad pitt was sensational, thanks to pitt's multifaceted and driven performance, without any histrionics or aid of special effects. while the movie may be talky, steve zaillian and aaron sorkin's script was intelligent and engaging. moneyball's straight-faced, blunt and candid slant was novel compared to your archetypal underdog tales. absent were stirring orations, over-the-top background music or even overly dramatic scenes in the diamond… but even the simplest phone call in this movie was actually made exciting.

intelligent, riveting and entertaining, moneyball really hit the home run.

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