Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Details: US/133mins PG
While films about much-loved American pastimes rarely travel well, this fact based tale on the two men that changed the financial structure of baseball can reverberate through any sport. It's a never less-than-interesting look and the semantics of the game, rather than a production about baseball; in fact there's very little match action in it, as we see the film through the eyes of Brad Pitt's General Manger - who can't' watch games on account of the nerves. Speaking of which, Pitt reminds us just why he is where he is with another charisma-filled, magnetic performance.
Pitt is Billy Beane, the General Manager of the mildly successful, but budget restrained Major League baseball team, The Oakland Athletics. To survive, the team must slash their budget and sell on some of their biggest stars to direct competition, which causes Beane to hire Jonah Hill's economics major, Peter Brand. Together they formulate a radical plan that curtails almost every major ideal about baseball players and scouting, and assemble a team for a fraction of the cost of their rivals - something that makes them unpopular with old school baseball folks.
It's a testament to the work of the filmmakers and cast here that Moneyball is as engaging as it is. When broken down, the film is about numbers; because that was the mindset that these people had when tackling the issue of a crumbling team. Director Miller and his Oscar winning writers Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin drop just enough back-story in with Beane to make you care. Granted, Pitt really helps...
It goes without saying that the camera still loves Brad Pitt. He's grown into his looks in true movie star fashion, and is getting more like Robert Redford with each passing flick. His work here is injected with the kind of slight touches of quirk that have become his trademark in lighter fare. It's a semi-serious role after two very sombre turns in both Tree of Life and The Assassination of Jesse James. His presence alone elevates every scene, and gives this already cracking production that something extra. Hill is fine support, but doesn't veer too much away from his well known persona, while other notable name, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, just walks around looking belligerent.
Surprisingly engrossing and both funny and fascinating, you won't need to be a baseball aficionado to enjoy Moneyball.