With a dedicated cast and relevant down-to-earth humor, “Moneyball” chronicles the struggle and triumph of one of the most compelling sports stories of the new millennium.
Based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, “Moneyball” follows Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland Athletics. After watching his team lose its last season game, Beane searches for a way to build a competitive professional team with only a fraction of the average MLB budget. Beane discovers Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a graduate from Yale University with a degree in economics and an untested theory on how to assemble baseball teams. The men assemble a team of inexperienced and forgotten players based on complex equations they believe will tell them who can get on base the most.
This is the second Hollywood film from director Bennett Miller following the 2005 drama “Capote.” Like his first work, “Moneyball” is a polished, powerful and heartfelt character-driven story of defiance and hope.
The movie’s positive tone can be attributed to its entertaining but never corny comic relief. Beane shows his growing connection with the newly-formed baseball team when he makes his first awkwardly humorous attempt at an inspirational pregame speech. These comedic moments save “Moneyball” from becoming a dark drama and provide insight into characters’ emotions.
While Pitt delivers the script’s dialogue with confidence, he is most compelling when he sits alone, dealing with his past as a failed baseball player and his fears about his decisions as a general manager. In these scenes, radio broadcasts of losing games and talk shows criticizing his actions are the film’s only sound, and Pitt conveys torment and frustration through his body language. The actions of such a quiet and focused performance show the tension the character faces and provides examples of the crushing pressure he endures.
Throughout the film, Miller tells an uplifting story with talented actors. Cashing in on this feel-good movie may make even a die-hard Yankees fan root for the Oakland As — if only for an inning or two.
“Moneyball” was directed by Bennett Miller and written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin.
3.5 stars of out 4