Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to see an advanced screening of Moneyball, the film to be released based on the true story of Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland Athletics squad. The movie stars Brad Pitt as Beane and Jonah Hill as his assistant, Peter Brand, based on the real-life character of Peter DePodesta.
As a relatively young baseball enthusiast, I have been very well rehearsed on the story of how the squad came together, how Mr. Beane came to build a winning American League squad to compete with the likes of the Yankees while at a fraction of the cost. However, I entered the theater knowing that the number of moviegoers wanting to see Brad Pitt in the next Hollywood blockbuster far outweighed the number of baseball fans in the theater. The final product left all the people in the theater with one of the most memorable and heart-warming films of the year.
The film itself is simply outstanding, backed by a strong script co-written by the award-winning Aaron Sorkin (of Social Network and West Wing fame). The chemistry between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill as the leading men of the film leaves a strong imprint on the audience, providing for some witty laughs and exchanges. The plot and production of the movie only further heightens the film's value, and the movie does a superb job of framing Beane's personal character into his baseball relationships.
Many baseball fans may enter the theater wary of the Hollywood effect on a true baseball story. Those worries can be put to rest. The movie remains as true to the story of the 2002 A's season as possible for a major movie release. The only misleading details are so obscure, even an Athletics fan from that season would have to research it. The players are true to form, and all details, schedules and games from that season are not fabricated. The only discrepancy lies with the fictitious character of Peter Brand, portrayed by Hill. DePodesta refused to release his name for the film upon discovering the fictitious characteristics that were to represent him in the film. Even so, the character remains loosely the same, with minor detail alterations (For example, Brand's character received a degree from Yale, whereas DePodesta received his degree from Harvard).
Simply put, this film is arguably one of the greatest baseball movies ever released. The beauty behind Moneyball is that it seamlessly blends a baseball story that would otherwise be uninteresting to the average moviegoer into a Hollywood blockbuster that can be enjoyed by all. Baseball fans, rejoice, for this is our movie to enjoy with our loved ones. Take your wife who simply wants to see Brad Pitt's latest project. Take your kids to be awed by the beauty of baseball on the big screen. Take your parents, take your loved ones, your friends and everyone in between. Baseball fans will definitely enjoy this film the most, but it is finally a film we can enjoy with everybody around us. By the end of the film, wives, husbands, kids, teens, Giants, Angels and A's fans alike will root for Billy Beane and the majestic and incredible story that is Moneyball.