Movie Review: Moneyball

I was pretty stoked to be invited to an early screening of Moneyball, because, while I'm not a huge sports fan, the film looked pretty good and has an excellent pedigree. Brad Pitt is in the starring role. Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian wrote the screenplay. It's based on a kind of controversial bestselling non-fiction book from a few years ago. (It's controversial if you're a baseball geek, anyway.) Philip Seymour Hoffman in a supporting role. And Jonah Hill as a geeky statistician, which seemed odd but started getting very positive buzz very early on. (And it's an anti-Yankees film. Bonus.) On a whole, the film's been generating some Oscar buzz. And I admit, I'm a sucker for a good sports movie, and, really, anything by Aaron Sorkin.

And it is a good Aaron Sorkin sports movie. It's very well paced, it's shot well, and it's surprisingly funny. Brad Pitt is insanely charismatic as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's who is tasked with rebuilding a team that has its roster pillaged year after year by big market teams like the Yankees. Jonah Hill is stellar as Peter Brand, the right-out-of-Yale economics geek who thinks that the A's can be rebuilt on the cheap by looking at some non-traditional statistics like on base percentage, rather than the traditional statistics like batting average and steals. The drama of the film centers around Beane and Brand's struggle to get the A's coach, Art Howe (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), the players, and scouts to get with the program. They're playing pro ball with the unwanted misfits in a non-traditional way. They don't care how you get on base, just so long as you get on base. It's actually more of a front office film than a film about the game on the field, and it's surprisingly fascinating. I was also surprised by how well Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill played off one another. Buddy cop film in the future? I think so.

All in all, while it's not a groundbreaking movie, it's very charming, witty, and is a bit of a different spin on the typical baseball movie.

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