Published Sep 22, 2011Based on a true story, Moneyball tells the unlikely tale of the Oakland A's breaking decades-old baseball tradition and embracing cold statistical analysis to win ballgames. Imagine a Bay St. broker evaluating a player's stats as if he was an undervalued stock, to get the idea.
If that sounds dry, Moneyball is anything but. Director Miller (Capote) and co-writer Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, The Social Network) craft a smart, funny Cinderella story about the 2002 A's, who climbed out the cellar to win 20 straight games by late summer.
The film centres on Billy Beane (Pitt), a failed ballplayer, but veteran general manager of a $40-million club that has to compete with dynasties like the $120-million Yankees. Beane has to win or he loses his job; it doesn't help that a richer team in the off-season poaches his best player. He has a hole to fill and tickets to sell. Desperate, yet open-minded, Beane steals a nerdy Yale economics grad named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) from a rival team and relies on his stats to lift the A's fortunes.
Pitt plays Beane with self-deprecating wit and wisdom, the kind you gain from hard-earned experience. Known for his smart-ass teenage roles in Judd Apatow comedies, Hill is a riskier choice as the bespectacled Brand, but he shows surprising vulnerability, which wins us over.
If there is a fault to this fine film it's the ending, which peters out. Another flaw is the lack of a deeper meaning beyond Beane and Brand being innovators in the deeply conservative world of pro baseball. That said, Moneyball hits a home run when most films of this ilk fail to reach first base. (Sony)