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Moneyball movie poster

Moneyball: Movie Review

Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Bennett Miller

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stephen Bishop, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt
Released by: Sony Pictures

In Short: Major League Baseball is the framework for this fascinating film about a man who changed the rules of game as he built a winning team without the cash to lure the best players into his dugout.

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"Moneyball" Makes It to the Big Show

Whether you are an avid Major League Baseball fan or have never watched a single game in your life, "Moneyball" is a movie that is not to be missed. Sure, this mostly true-life tale centers around the game, specifically the story of Billy Beane, who as the film begins is the general manager of the Oakland Athletics. The year is 2001, and while the A's have done terrifically, they haven't quite made it to the World Series. And as soon as the season ends, the team's three top players jump ship for more lucrative franchises elsewhere in the league.

So Billy, as played with a wry blend of ingenuity, depression and drive by Brad Pitt, sets out to rebuild his team. Only problem is, he has basically no money to offer any of the up-and-coming players his scouts want to hire. Then a chance meeting with a chubby Yale graduate named Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who has a radically different way of looking at the game, completely changes Beane's outlook on recruiting a winning team. Brand is a fictional character, one invented by the filmmakers to embody the approach that Beane took to revamp his organization.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Moneyball Brad Pitt in Moneyball

Their way is by the numbers, using computer models and statistics to make player choices, rather than the less-scientific, traditional method of sending out scouts to assess the players' skills and marquee value. It's a system that the A's owner allows Beane and Brand to try, but one that team manager Art Howe vehemently disdains.

As the 2002 season progresses, a fascinating tale unfolds, one that by the end will have you on the edge of your seat – even if you remember that season perfectly. For director Bennett Miller ("Capote") and screenwriters (and Oscar winners) Steve Zaillian ("Schindler's List") and Aaron Sorkin ("The Social Network") have put together a story that goes far beyond just another feel-good sports flick. "Moneyball" explores how the life choices one makes early on reverberate well into middle age, as well as what the meaning of success really is. Is it simply winning the big game in the Big Show (the nickname given to pro baseball by those in the minor leagues)? Or is it something more than that, something more personal, with deeper consequences that last long past the final out?

In the case of "Moneyball," one thing is certain. The movie is a real winner and one that will very likely be a contender for big things come awards season, including a Best Actor nomination for Brad Pitt's fine work.


Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated: 09/22/11 CT)

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