Film Review: MONEYBALL

Directed by Bennett Miller
Written by Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin
Based on Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Christ Pratt

Go figure why a woman who dislikes baseball (although I went so far as to listen to spring training games on the radio for many years), does not understand a thing about math (I got a 48 in Algebra 2), falls asleep at the mention of money, and is not particularly fond of Brad Pitt, liked Moneyball quite a lot.

PLOT: Billy Beane, (Pitt) a failed baseball player, is General Manager of the Oakland As, the team with the smallest payroll in baseball circa 2001. A new general office hire from Princeton (Jonah Hill, in a terrific low-keyed performance) persuades him that the most important thing for a team in the OBP (on base percentage) of each player and that many players were undervalued in this statistic. So Billy builds his team along these lines, firing some players that the team manager (Hoffman) loves and hiring ones he can’t beat to play. Beane almost takes them to the pennant.

In some respects, this is a film that could have been a TV movie. It’s small and despite some attempts to heighten the action and suspense, there’s not a lot. We don’t spend much time on the field—but quite a bit in the locker and boardroom. What the movie does is show intelligence in presenting this Bill Jamesian philosophy in a lucid and patient way. And Beane turns out to be a pretty interesting guy, struggling to succeed in a game and business that once broke his heart. Most of all, this is a movie about business and a fine one. And as for Pitt, with this performance following his fine one in Tree of Live, I am starting to become a fan.

Highly recommended.

Patti
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at http://www.pattinase.blogspot.com/ She hopes you’ll join in.