'Aaaah, yet another sports movie' is what you end up saying to yourself after seeing the promo of 'Moneyball'. Yes, there is Brad Pitt. Yes, the film looks better than a regular popcorn munching feel-good affair. And yes, there is an interesting mathematical model thrown in for good measure as well. Still, somewhere deep down in heart, you do end up thinking if it may all boil down to a great American dream about 'winning against all odds' and 'keeping the detractors away'.
Thankfully, within 20 minutes of the film, you realise that 'Moneyball' is indeed different. Yes, it is ultimately about making way out of obstacles but the sheer strategy and the euphoria leading to that is what makes this Bennett Miller directed film an entertaining watch.
A manager of a baseball team that doesn't quite promise to find itself on the winning charts any day, Brad Pitt has a task cut out of him. He has to make this team break the shackles and perform. He doesn't have an option to go for the big players either since they come at a cost, something that his team can't afford. Surrounding by other officials and particularly a sceptic (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who don't quite believe in this team delivering the goods, he finds himself cornered until he comes across a mathematical genius (Jonah Hill). With various models and statistics doing the talking instead of big money, it was about time that their team started delivering goods.
A true story, 'Moneyball' takes a realistic route though instead of getting trapped in the mould of a quintessential Hollywood sports film. Of course there are board room meetings, locker room conversations, moments of introspection and times when just about nothing seems to be working for the people involved. However the film does manage to keep a good hold on its narrative which doesn't quite meander and stays on course with the subject being explored.
This also means that varied emotions (as expected) like instant dismissal, angst, frustration, impulsive decisions, self belief, downfall and the ultimate euphoria are some of the regular ingredients that one finds in abundance here as well. You know where the film is ultimately headed towards but then you want to be a part of that journey for sure.
There is a bit of scepticism that comes in the audience mind as well because you do feel that if mathematics could actually change fortunes in a sports, most down and out teams could have already benefited out of that. Moreover it is talent that does all the talking but since the story telling is so convincing here (and moreover you are well aware that it is a true story after all), you don't quite mind the manner in which various complexities are handled.
Moreover the director has done a good job in roping services of those actors who can be trusted to deliver goods. While there is hardly any argument needed around Brad Pitt, the surprise inclusion is in the form of Jonah Hill who hasn't quite been presented with opportunities to lead from the front. Perhaps it was this very 'moneyball' formula adopted by director Bennett Miller as well who entrusted Jonah to be the man of the job. That Philip Seymour Hoffman would be roped in here was a given considering the author backed part he had played in Miller's debut affair (and only other venture) Capote.
No wonder, together they ensure that as a sum of all affairs, 'Moneyball' indeed manages to hold it's grounds. Of course this also means that it isn't really the kind of film which turns into a smash hit worldwide. However for those who like their sports based films to have an element of realism as well; 'Moneyball' is the one for them.