Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis' fascinating book, is about the science of baseball and how the anemic Oakland Athletics in 2002/2003 managed to win games with an unlikely team and lousy payroll. Sound boring? Nope. Brad Pitt fills a perfect role. He's Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's.
Beane was a young gun with a full Stanford scholarship, who skipped college to play in the big show for the New York Mets. Unfortunately, he could never get all of his skills to connect. But he became a talent scout, thrived, and moved up the ladder. Now, as a forty-something GM, he was facing the loss of three big players (free agents) and had no money to buy replacements.
However, he did recognize some other talent - a young Yale economist graduate - Peter Brand (unassumingly played by Jonah Hill in a breakout role for him). This kid had statistics to back up player picks, looking at on-base percentages,etc. No picks based on physical looks, girlfriends, or star wattage. Strictly numbers. Billy rolls with the new method, is almost laughed out of the ballpark, until ... the A's start winning, and winning, and winning some more.
Moneyball is a modest, talks a lot film. It watches Pitt ponder and then sweat out his team's games. He battles the coach, played by a gruff Phillip Seymour Hoffman (always fabulous), and he helps Brand understand the glory of baseball, the dream, and that the key is winning that last game. Plenty of chuckles, angst, and baseball in this film. Brad Pitt ambles through it all with grace and all-American heart.
Here's to the start of a home-run hitting fall movie season.
(review published for the Little Paper of San Saba - a town without a theater)
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