Moneyball

 

Sony Pictures

 

Rating: PG-13

 

Reason for the Rating: Some strong language.

 

Plot Summary: The GM for the Oakland A's puts a team together based on statistics and ability instead of superstition and presupposition.

 

PopFam Recommends: Moneyball is a movie every parent with teenagers should see.

 

When you think of baseball, football and basketball you probably also think of money. Big money. Players being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per game which equals millions of dollars per season. And while it's enough to turn the average person's stomach, apparently all teams aren't "in the money."

 

The Oakland A's is one of those teams. In fact, ten years ago they had the lowest budget in Major League Baseball (39 million), and were contending with teams whose budgets were more than triple that. Which makes competing difficult, if not impossible. Luckily though, the Oakland A's had (and still have) Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) as their General Manager. In 2002, Beane decided to walk away from the traditional way of choosing players, which was based mostly on perception and prejudice. A pitcher could be discounted simply because his pitch looked funny, or another player not considered because he had an ugly girlfriend (a confident player would have a pretty girlfriend).

 

While visiting Cleveland in an attempt to trade players, Beane comes across Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an economics major from Yale who has an unconventional means of choosing players. Statistical analysis. Specifically, how often does a player get on base? Interestingly enough, there are plenty of player who have been overlooked due to girlfriends or a funny stance who are excellent at getting on base. And because they've been overlooked, they come cheap, which is the price Billy Beane is looking for.

 

But, creating a team of has-beens and odd-balls doesn't do much to create camaraderie between Beane and head coach Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). In fact, Howe refuses to use players in the way Beane intends, which leads to a losing streak no one is happy with. It's not until Beane forces his hand does Howe respond and everyone begins to see the amazing team Beane has put together.

 

Moneyball is such an interesting movie on several levels. It not only tells the story of how baseball was drastically changed in one season, but makes one consider the prejudices we all live with and display from time to time. Whether its looks, the way a person walks or dresses, we all evaluate and judge based on appearances. It's difficult not to, but does the way a man walks have any bearing on his work ethic? Does the fashion sense of a woman indicate what kind of friend she'll be? Not really, but these are all things we use to determine the value of a person to some extent.

 

At first I found it interesting that Brad Pitt would make a movie like Moneyball. The guy must have the opportunity to be involved with just about any movie he wants, and he chose a movie about a baseball GM. It's not an attention-grabber (like Mr. & Mrs. Smith) nor is it a completely creative creation (like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Yet, at the end of the movie I found myself totally satisfied in the story, the characters and the perspective that I was glad he chose to make this movie (he not only stars in the film, but produced it, as well).

 

This is a movie parents won't want to miss seeing with their 13 or older children. Whether you have a sports fan or not, Moneyball provides the opportunity to talk with your kids about topics that affect them everyday such as peer pressure, accepting others based on the superficial, and standing for what you believe...without apologizing. Something many of us adults could learn to do as well.

 

Go see Moneyball. Whether you're a baseball fan or not, you'll come away impressed by the implications of this movie.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Tell about a time you rejected someone at first appearance, and then realized how amazing that person really was.

 

• At one point Billy asks Peter if he believes in his system for choosing players. Peter says he does, to which Billy responds that he should never apologize for or explain his system. How does this relate to your beliefs as a Christian?

 

• How many social outcasts did Jesus accept in the Bible? Name them.

 

--JW

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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