Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.


MoneyballCinema Monolith: 9/10 This film is part of the Cinema Monolith collection!Film Reel
IMDb: 7.6/10
The Arizona Republic: **** out of 5

Released on September 23, 2011
Rated PG-13
133 minutes

Directed by Bennett Miller

Written by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, based on the book by Michael Lewis

Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kerris Dorsey, Robin Wright, Nick Searcy, Arliss Howard, Chris Pratt, Casey Bond, Stephen Bishop, Jack McGee, Royce Clayton, Ken Medlock, Spike Jonze

I would never have guessed that a baseball movie about the administrative side of the game, where the action took place not on the field but in the front office, would be one of the most captivating, entertaining, and well-made baseball films I’ve ever seen. Yes, ever. And that’s just what Moneyball was, with the help of director Bennett Miller, the razor-sharp screenwriting pair of Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, and the acting of everyone involved, from the three leads to the supporting cast, ballplayers, and periphery performers.

This fact-based look at A’s general manager Billy Beane and the evolution of his 2002 squad from cellar-dwellars to division champions, a team built using numbers, statistics, and a minimum of finances, not only captured the look and tone of baseball from a behind-the-scenes vantage point, but gave you off-the-field insights into players, coaches, scouts, and of course the team GM, here played by Brad Pitt in a picture-perfect performance that supplied the film with its heart and soul. He nailed every aspect of his role, and without him, Moneyball would not be the great film that it is.

Everything here worked, whether it was the story of Beane’s rebuilding process, his scraps with manager Art Howe (played with a quiet menace by Philip Seymour Hoffman), his exchanges with his players, or the few glimpses of his personal life, which added balance to Pitt’s rendition of his straight-forward and confident GM persona. For me, however, what really brought the film to a higher level was the relationship and interactions between Pitt and a surprising Jonah Hill, who played Beane’s assistant with a mature restraint you wouldn’t have expected from his raunch-comedy past; their scenes together were just plain fun, and thankfully the story required the two characters to share screen time for most of the film.

Director Miller had a firm grip on every idea, angle, and atmosphere he presented, and spiced the proceedings with well-executed baseball action, moments of subtle humor, and clips of game footage and audio broadcasts that reminded you this was indeed a true story. A wonderful film with a story both exciting and uplifting, great visuals, and many memorable moments. Please, take my advice: whether you’re a fan of the sport or not, this is a movie that is not to be missed.  (9/10)

Moneyball - photo office final

12 comments on “Moneyball

  1. Tyson Carter

    I still havent seen this, but I really need to make an effort! Always such good reviews 🙂


    • Todd Benefiel

      Thanks, Tyson! This one made my Top 5 list of baseball films, so hopefully I don’t steer you wrong with my recommendation. If I do, well, feel free to lambaste me in your review.


  2. grandrapidsgirl

    Yes, this was a great movie! Loved your review. And thoughtful of you to recognize Roger’s passing (very sad).


    • Todd Benefiel

      This was only my second viewing, and I’d forgotten just how great of a movie this was. And yes, sad about Mr. Ebert…no more movie review guide books as gifts.


  3. spreth1

    Watched this last night on your suggestion. I enjoyed Pitt and Hill’s characters, and generally it’s a solid story; a good but not great film, in my opinion. I liked how the portrayal of Art Howe (who could’ve been made to look like a buffoon to help solidify the story of Beane’s “greatness”) was more about taking a stand – two sides who both believe that they are right, stubbornly digging in with resolve. Does the film suggest at the end that the Red Sox’ championship of 2004 was because of Beane, despite his turning down the offer to run the team?


    • Todd Benefiel

      Glad you checked it out and liked it! Would you rank it in your Top 5 baseball films of all time? And while we’re at it…what are your Top 5 baseball films? I would agree, they kept Howe from looking like a clown…but they sure did make him look like a jerk (and I guess the real Art Howe didn’t like that representation at all!). In a way, the ending does suggest the Bosox championship was due to Beane; I looked it up, and apparently the Sox went ahead and used Beane’s methods without him.

      I really thought this film was well-made, and had a great look and direction to it…and of course, Pitt and Hill were both just outstanding. Now you’ll have to check out 61* and tell me what you think; will it crack your Top 5? Will you rank Here Come the Tigers higher? Or will you just forsake baseball entirely?


  4. Popcorn Nights

    Even though it’s not a popular sport over here, there have been a few baseball movies I’ve enjoyed in the past (and you’ve covered them all recently) but this one really surprised me as I thought I’d find the subject matter a bit too slow and specialist. One of Mr B. Pitt’s best performances, I reckon – I particularly liked the scenes he had where he held meetings with the older coaches (draft picks?).


    • Todd Benefiel

      It surprised me, too…I was expecting something very dry and analytical, and figured Pitt would be ‘going through the motions’, perhaps…but no, this was something a lot more. Like his scenes with the coaches, I liked it when Pitt went head-to-head with someone, especially with manager Art Howe, as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (who also did a great job). You mention seeing other baseball films in your past…do you have a favorite?


      • Popcorn Nights

        Probably Eight Men Out, off the top of my head, remember enjoying that a lot. I also saw Bull Durham years ago and thought it was decent even though I can’t stand Costner most of the time (exception to the rule – The Untouchables). Didn’t like Field of Dreams though, which I guess would be more appealing to people that are steeped in the history of the game.


      • Todd Benefiel

        Interestingly enough, I recently had to explain to my friend and my brother why I wasn’t a big fan of Field of Dreams. Yes, the historical aspect of it was great for followers of the game, but I had some problems with most everything that took time away from the backyard ballfield. I’m going to have to visit Bull Durham again; I haven’t seen it since it’s original release. And cool about Eight Men Out…I just wish they’d stretched it out into a mini-series, so I could’ve learned more!


  5. Dracula

    What about the Mt. Carmel photos in the early stage of the film. Isn’t there some sort of link here? By the way, this rates as my top baseball film, but I may have only seen 2 others, can’t recall the titles. Radiation on the brain, that’s my excuse!


    • Todd B

      Did you watch Moneyball recently? Or had you already seen it, and were just cruising through my A-Z index? Yeah, this is one of my baseball favorites, too, as I’m sure you figured out. I would’ve liked to see more MCHS re-creations, though. And ‘radiation on the brain’? More like ‘medicinal marijuana on the brain’ if you ask me!


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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 227

From the Monolith: 125

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