Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
There have been all kinds of baseball movies over the years: musicals, comedies, dramas, and personal tragedies. But I can’t recall one about the nuts and bolts of the business of baseball. But now, Moneyball fills that gap admirably.
Based on the true story of Billy Beane and his struggle to make a winning team of the Oakland A’s within the framework of the lowest salary budget of all the teams, Moneyball is the fall season’s first really important film, and a likely Oscar contender in several categories.
Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, and… you’ll pardon the expression… knocks one out of the ballpark with a game-tying career best performance. After Inglourious Basterds, and now Moneyball, it’s the time in his career to consider Brad Pitt a terrific actor, and not just a movie star. Billy Beane was a promising baseball player, but his career went nowhere fast. He got a job with the Oakland A’s as general manager, and his team was in the basement. While on a hunt for the few players he might actually be able to afford, Beane runs into Peter Brand, a fresh-faced kid working at his first job who is a whiz at statistics and analyzing just about anything. Brand is covered by Jonah Hill, who, up to now, usually appeared in really stupid, alleged “comedies.” Here, he shows he may have the right stuff to become a decent actor. Brand convinces Beane that by analyzing the statistics of affordable players, it’s possible to put together a winning team despite the flaws the players bring with them.
Brilliantly directed by Bennett Miller, whose first film, Capote, is a great way to start your resume, and written with heart by Steven Zaillain, Oscar winner for Schindler’s List, and Aaron Sorkin, creator of TV’s The West Wing and Oscar winner for The Social Network, Moneyball brings the game of baseball into the twenty-first century.
Sure, it’s tough to leave tradition behind, but the scenes involving the old boys round table discussions about what to do about players says that maybe it’s time that some traditions should be retired. It’s equally energizing to follow someone who’s fighting the odds to do something new and different.
There’s just enough of back-story information about Beane to make him a real person: he has an ex-wife, played in one scene by Robin Wright. And he has a 12-year-old daughter whom he adores. She is winningly depicted by the charming Kerris Dorsey. Other than these brief departures outside the ballpark, Moneyball is all business, and that business is baseball. And if you’re like me, not a fan of the game with zero knowledge about it, you’ll still be immersed in the story and this wonderful example of first-class moviemaking.
When it comes time to knock out my “Ten Best” list for the year, Moneyball will definitely be on it.
The PG-13 rated Moneyball is now scoring runs at ballplexes everywhere.