Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt
After losing a postseason game to the Yankees in 2001, General Manger of the Oakland Athletics Billy Beane (Pitt) is forced to face the fact that he's losing three star players. The A's have a salary of $41 million to spend on players compared to the Yankees $120 million. There is the theory that you have to pay to get good notable players. The kind of players that can win championships and the World Series. Having been a player himself, Beane knows the game inside and out. After hiring Peter Brand (Hill) as his assistant, they plan to assemble the team and hire new players using a calculated formulaic system based on the player's on-base statistics. They want players that can get on base and stay on base. They set their eyes on players that can play well, but might be over-looked as they are either past their prime, have a funny pitch, or don't throw the best. They may have the best stats but aren't costing the teams millions of dollars based on their name alone. After ignoring the rest of the recruiting staff and manager Art Howe (Hoffman), Beane hires three new players: Scott Hatteberg (Pratt), Chad Bradford, and David Justice.
The season starts with a grim outlook. The Athletics's can't seem to win a game. Beane's unusual approach does not turn out the way he was hoping. Art Howe is not playing the men the way Beane wants him to. Beane decides to make more drastic changes by trading some of the players and forcing Howe to play the men the way he intended them to be played. Like any motivational sports movie, the team starts to turn around and go on a winning streak.
Brad Pitt gives a strong, comitted performance as Beane. He's always present and truthful in each scene. I think Pitt is very underrated as an actor. He may have done some clunkers along the way, but he's really proven himself time and again. See any of the movies he has done with David Fincher for proof. It's unfortunate that the "Brangelina" media coverage gets in the way of his talent and image as an actor. Jonah Hill was shockingly great in the movie. He plays against his normal doofy Judd Apatow type character, and it really works. As much as I love watching Phillip Seymour Hoffman, he wasn't given the material in this to really show him off. I know he has worked with Miller before, but he seems to be coasting through the movie. Robin Wright has been given the cameo treatment as well playing Beane's ex-wife. I was hoping to be blown away by Moneyball. I enjoyed it but didn't come out thinking it was the best movie of the year or anything like that.
RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)