Films/Theater Reviews — 21 September 2011
Moneyball: A Movie Review

Based on a true story, Moneyball is a movie for anybody who has ever dreamed of taking on the system. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball’s conventional wisdom is wrong.

Mickey Mantle once said, “It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.” The baseball legend’s words not only speak volumes about each of us and our life’s function, but they are also the very first ones appearing on the screen as Moneyball begins.

Moneyball, based on the Michael Lewis book, stars Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics’ General Manager and former player, Billy Beane. Beane is a conflicted yet driven man who is at a crossroads when his team’s top players are fleeced by teams with gigantic budgets. But Beane’s brilliance is the methodology he used to sift through player statistics to find bargain players that could produce and remain competitive, while keeping his team’s budget at one of the lowest in Major League Baseball. Throughout the film, you get the Brad Pitt performance you have always wanted- a virtual cornucopia of the acting ability you have loved in his other works. Moneyball delivers the funny, dramatic, and maniacal Pitt all in one guy. It sounds like something that shouldn’t work, but in this film you can’t help but marvel at his range.

When you cast a lead like Pitt, his supporting actors need to be able to keep up with him. Fortunately an all-star support cast was assembled, being able to go toe to toe with Pitt in either comedic or dramatic fashion. First off, Jonah Hill shines here in his first non Apatow-esque role. Hill stars as Peter Brand, an analyst for the Cleveland Indians who jumps ship to Oakland to assist Beane in his quest to build the perfect team for the best price. Throughout the film we see Hill’s character grow from a fresh faced kid, to a major player in front office scouting. But most of all it is Hill’s effortless mixture of comedy and drama that really exemplify the fact that this guy has truly matured into a fine actor.

Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays Oakland manager, Art Howe and his performance is beautifully understated and most importantly feels authentic. Baseball managers may be hot heads and screamers but they are most certainly not Shakespearean trained actors. Hoffman hits these notes perfectly, providing just enough rancor during his many argumentative scenes with Pitt to make them infinitely believable. So believable in fact, that you forget that Phillip Seymour Hoffman is simply acting. He easily hides in the role.

The screenplay was written by the legendary Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network). Sorkin’s dialogue heavy script is like gold to these actors as Pitt’s Beane is provided with some of the coolest, and poignant material on screen in some time. If you liked, The Social Network there’s a good chance you’ll love Moneyball.

Whether you’re a diehard baseball fan, or someone who never watches a game, Moneyball will have something in it for you. Pitt’s portrayal of Beane is one of enduring perseverance, but also delivers a great deal of self doubt, making him an incredibly relatable character. We love our film protagonists to be strong and quick-witted, but also flawed like we all are. Pitt shines here in each category, making this an Oscar worthy performance by one of Hollywood’s biggest names, portraying a big time player who helped change America’s greatest game.

Moneyball is rated PG-13, starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Wright, has a runtime of 133 minutes, and is released in theaters everywhere this Friday, September, 23rd.

- Jay Rubin

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