Based on a true story and a best-selling book, “Moneyball” stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the General Manger of the Oakland A’s Major League Baseball team. Following the 2001 season the A’s lose three of their best players to free-agency. The A’s don’t have tons of money to spend on player’s salaries like most of the other teams do so Beane decided he needs to change the way he puts his team together.
First he hires a new assistant (Jonah Hill is great as Peter Brand) who analyzes baseball players by statistics and not their talent. These two then set-out to change the way that a winning team is built. Of course everyone else in baseball thinks they’re crazy, including their own manager, Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and all the team’s scouts.
Beane, himself, was a great baseball player when he was young but he failed miserably when he got to the majors. We get several flashback scenes of his disappointments as a player and they drive him to want to win even more as a GM.
I didn’t know most of the actual events from the A’s 2002 season that are depicted in the movie, but I’m sure most adult baseball fans who watch it will, which will take away some of the suspense. But the biggest problem with “Moneyball”, from a marketing standpoint, is that it’s totally about baseball. Unlike “Jerry McGuire”, which was a relationship movie disguised as a sports film or “The Blind Side”, which was set in a football world but wasn’t really about football, “Moneyball” is a baseball movie – period. A few brief scenes of Beane with his daughter only momentarily takes us away from the statistic and the strategies and the long discussions about players. And there’s plenty of game action as well.
It did better at the box office than I though it would. More women and non-sports fans went to see it than expected. And the awards attention the movie has gotten will help it’s DVD/Blu-ray sales.
As for the story, there’s a major problem with using this season as the centerpiece of a Hollywood script that I can’t give away but, again, if you know anything about the A’s from that season you’ll immediately understand. And the movie comes to an amazingly quick ending, especially for a 2+ hour film.
On the winning side, Pitt is very good. This is Beane’s story, and Pitt is in every scene (that’s no exaggeration). Hill proves he can play a light, dramatic role along with being in raunchy, R-rated comedies. The supporting cast is fine and the baseball scenes do look authentic.
“Moneyball” is rated PG-13, simply for a few cases of adult language. I can’t recommend it for younger baseball fans, because there’s too much talk and not enough action for most kids. Older fans of the game and of baseball history will enjoy it, but if that’s not you and you’re not a big Brad Pitt fan, you’re better off skipping it.
On “The Official Kid Critic Report Card”, “Moneyball” gets a C+. It’s not a strike-out but certainly not a home run either. And for me, not a diehard baseball fan, it’s a bit of a disappointment.