Grant Mitchell

Brad Pitt has been a Hollywood movie star for an exceedingly long time. His success at staying relevant and being acclaimed as an actor, as well as his box office draw, is in large part due to performances such as the one he delivered in 2011’s “Moneyball.”

Everyone has a job or position in society that fulfills the “when I grow up” dream category, but very few people are ever able to reach these positions. Sometimes the reasons for failing to climb to the top of the mountain and realize your dreams is due in part to forces beyond your control, not giving enough effort or simply not being made to do what you have dreamed of.

For Brad Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, he knew one thing and one thing only, baseball.

Knowing the game brought him to the top levels of the game, the MLB, and we saw Billy become a huge prospect and potential star for the New York Mets.

Told throughout the film in a series of perfectly placed flashbacks, Billy’s career as a player is shown as having not panned out as expected and leads to him ultimately taking his love and knowledge for the game of baseball to the front office.

It is in this management role that we find Billy Beane at the beginning of this film. We see him as the general manager of one of the poorest teams in baseball trying to restructure and recover their talent after having lost three big name players from the roster.

The scouts and team advisors make a point of remaining calm and carrying on with business as usual, attempting to fill the voids in their team by conventional means.

Unsatisfied with this and emphasizing the fact that their team doesn’t have the means to spend and acquire players like other more wealthy MLB teams, Billy Beane sets out on finding an unconventional solution to their problems.

The solution comes in the form of Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand, an economist who studies the statistics for MLB players and teams and uses mathematics and logic to determine the best players and lineups instead of using traditional instinctive evaluations.

The result of pairing a grizzled MLB executive in Pitt’s Beane and a relatively new to the profession idealist in Hill’s Brand is pure movie magic as their relationship becomes more fun and fraternal.

Along with the excellent pairing of Pitt and Hill’s characters also comes the fantastic ensemble cast performance which includes the late-great Philip Seymore Hoffman as the grouchy Art Howe.

Along with all of these standout performances from actors big and small also comes the intelligent and tight writing from Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian which really brings everything to life and pulls the audience in.

Ironically, for all of the acclaim and success “Moneyball” saw following its release, it was initially in development hell as its original production company, Sony, saw the film as being too technical.

This trait would ultimately lend itself to creating a public appetite for more “technical” and “smart” films covering mainstream topics such as the ones covered in 2015’s “The Big Short,” as well as 2018’s “Vice.”

While initial fears from top Hollywood brass would have left this film dead before filming even started, the persistence of Brad Pitt got the ball rolling and ultimately lead to “Moneyball” being made.

What we the audience are left with is nothing short of a magnificently vivid, concise and well-rounded portrayal of not only the game of baseball, but also all of the moving parts behind the scenes.

Grant Mitchell is a senior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

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