Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on September 23, 2011
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)