Moneyball – Movie review

We’re film fans here at Tax Credits.  So, amongst our invaluable tax credits advice, we occasionally like to recommend a finance themed movie which we think you will enjoy.  So, sit back and enjoy our review of the six time Oscar nominated Brad Pitt movie Moneyball.

The idea of thinking differently about how you get the most from a limited amount of money will be familiar to millions of people.  Reduced household incomes have led many people to think differently about how they spend their money – and it’s this notion that underpins Moneyball.

The film is based on Michael Lewis’ best selling 2003 novel.  The book is an account of the Oakland Athletics baseball team’s 2002 season and the attempts of general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) to assemble a competitive team despite being the poorest team in the league.

During a visit to the Cleveland Indians, Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess players’ value.  His ‘sabermetric’ approach analyses players based purely on statistical analysis rather than character traits which have led other teams to dismiss them.  Having hired Brand as the Athletics’ assistant general manager, Brand begins to assemble a team of undervalued players with far more potential than the A’s finances would otherwise allow.

The team start the season poorly and there are increasing objections to the approach from scouts and the manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman).  However, when Beane decides to trade the Athletics’ star player, forcing Howe to select his recruits, the team’s form improves and the A’s go on to win 20 consecutive games – an American league record.

Co-written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball manages to remain inspiring, interesting and engaging throughout, even if you have no clue about how baseball works and what an ‘on base percentage’ is.  Don’t be put off by the fact that the film is based on the American sport – Moneyball is much more than simply a dumb sports movie.

With six Oscar nominations, Moneyball proves that it’s possible to make a great sports film.  Brad Pitt is superb as the A’s general manager Billy Beane, while there are some terrific supporting performances from Jonah Hill – who is a revelation in an unusual non-comedy role – and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the sceptical manager.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Beane’s sabermetric approach changed sport.  Using his techniques, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918 two years later, and the theory has spilled over into other sports.  Even football managers have admitted to reading Lewis’ book and using some of the techniques that Beane adopted.

Moneyball is a story that needed telling.  And, even if you’re not a sports fan, you’ll enjoy this uplifting tale about how thinking differently and taking risks can help you overcome the odds.

Highly recommended.

Moneyball (2011). Director: Bennett Miller. Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright


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