Moneyball

Out Now On-Demand

What are you really worth?

True baseball drama about Billy Beane's desperate, unorthodox methods as general manager of the Oakland Athletics - the major league's poorest club. Stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. From the director of Capote, based on the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.

Frustrated with the team's lack of money and continuously losing talent to far wealthier clubs, Beane (Pitt) - a failed former player with a growing hatred of losing - figures he needs a unique approach to compete. He sees the light in theories championed by Peter Brand (Hill), a young Yale economics major, new to baseball. To the chagrin of the club's traditionalists, Beane and Brand attempt to create a more competitive team, on bargain bin prices, thorough analysis and a new sabermetric approach to scouting players.

Trailers

Awards

Winner of Best Actor (Pitt) at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 2011. Winner of Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Pitt) at the New York Film Critic Circle Awards 2011.

Directed by

Written by

Adaptation, Drama, Sport, True Story & Biography

133mins

Rating: M contains offensive language

USA

Official Site

Let me say, right off the bat (baseball pun quota filled): your enjoyment of Moneyball will be largely dependent on your interest of the subject matter. This is not to say you need to be a fan of baseball or economics, but you need to be drawn to the idea of two men’s determination to go against the conventions of a financially unbalanced system. Luckily, I was.

It’s a screenwriter’s film, relying mostly on its dialog and performances to pull you through its lengthy running time. Fortunately, both of these elements are stellar. The script changed hands at one point, resulting in a diet-Sorkin feel that’s pretty noticeable, but far from distracting. The cast compliment the writing, with Pitt and Hill nailing every golden line they were handed (and there are plenty of them).

Despite the all-round top-notch performances, I’m still left baffled as to what Jonah Hill did to warrant an Oscar nod. He does just fine as a young hopeful who goes from slightly confused economics graduate to a slightly confident analyst. However, his role is hardly a stretch for him.

Moneyball’s stats-heavy story is told so well that you’re never left feeling like an idiot drowning in jargon, similar to how last year’s Contagion gave a crash course in microbiology without you noticing. Perhaps its greatest achievement is making an MLB ignoramus like me fascinated in fantasy baseball. That’s got to count for something.

A.V. Club (USA)

press

Persuades as a rousing egghead triumph.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)

press

A smart, intense and moving film that isn't so much about sports as about the war between intuition and statistics.

E! Online.com

press

The entertaining banter between Pitt and Jonah Hill isn't quite enough to make such an insular world compelling.

Empire (UK)

press

A chest-swelling story about second chances and flipping a finger up (even a giant foam one) to The Man.

Hollywood Reporter

press

A baseball movie for people who dislike the sport.

Los Angeles Times

press

Impressive and surprising.

New York Times

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Takes all this seemingly dry, dusty, inside-baseball stuff and turns it into the kind of all-too-rare pleasurable Hollywood diversion that gives you a contact high.

Rolling Stone

press

Moneyball is one of the best and most viscerally exciting films of the year.

The Guardian (UK)

press

It's an engaging, almost exotic film.

The New Yorker

press

One of the most soulful of baseball movies -- it confronts the anguish of a very tough game.

Time Magazine

press

Turns out to be smart, funny and seemingly seamless.

Total Film (UK)

press

You’ll be surprised how hard it grips, even if baseball means less than sod-all to you.

USA Today

press

A thinking person's baseball movie, a more complex version of the inspirational sports story.

Variety (USA)

press

Uncannily sharp.

Village Voice (USA)

press

It really happened, it's really corny, and it's really great.

extract from theaterofhecommonman.com

Extract from theaterofthecommonman.com

it was hard not to be captivated by the game's romance as I watched today's film Moneyball. Based on Michael Lewis's exceptional biography, Moneyball: The Art of Winning the Unfair Game, the film focuses on arguably the modern game's most innovative exponent, Billy Beane. In a sport where a team's success is determined by the balance of its payroll Billy took the Oakland A's from zero to hero with little more than pocket change. Throwing the old-school methods of scouting out the window, he used a widely panned mathematical selection process called Sabermetrics. Pioneered by janitor Bill James, Sabermetrics takes a player's micro statistics and formulates a score based on their skill set, in the process, determining a team's probability of winning by a selection based on stats rather than raw talent and gut instinct.

Brad Pitt (Billy Beane) is quickly maturing as an actor. More than just a pretty face these days, his acting chops grow as he matures. As with his recent performance in Malick's Tree of life, a lot is asked of him. With little room for comfort, director Bennett Miller chooses ever increasing tightness in his shot selections on our protagonist. Not an easy skill to master for any actor, even one with the pedigree of Brad Pitt. Fictional character, Paul DePodesta (Jonah Hill), is brought in as an exponent of Bill James' selection theory. Although I can generally handle Jonah, I felt he under played his role and looked uncomfortable without his humorous crutch. All said and done though, Jonah's weak performance didn't detract from a brilliant film that purists of the game will be talking about for years.


Home run!

American underdog sports movies are far from a new concept, but rarely does one come together as well as Bennett Miller's MONEYBALL. It's something of a hard sell, given that the film more concerned with statistics and percentages than the game of baseball itself, yet writers Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin craft a surprisingly compelling story, and Miller's understated, almost old-fashioned direction allows the beauty of the story to play out naturally, despite a slightly overlong runtime.

As previously mentioned, MONEYBALL is more of a business film than a sports film, telling the story of the under-funded Oakland Athletics' 2002 Major League season, a season where general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and freshly graduated economics major Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) shook the game's backroom strategy to the foundations. Brand's radical approach (selecting a team based on statistics rather than individual performance) isn't exactly the most cinematic of concepts, yet Zaillian's excellent story construction coupled with the wonderful dialogue from Sorkin simplifies what could be a densely intimidating and complex subject, with breezy, relatable, and very entertaining results. Much like Sorkin's Oscar-winning THE SOCIAL NETWORK screenplay, MONEYBALL uses the real-life events as a frame to hang much grander ideas on, and even for viewers unfamiliar or uninterested in the sport, there is much here to enjoy.

No discussion of MONEYBALL would be complete without special attention being paid to the fabulous double act of Pitt and Hill, both arguably delivering the finest performances of their careers. The two play so well off of one another, with Pitt in particular revealing a little seen everyman quality which fits his character, and the film, perfectly. Beane lives everyday with the spectre of past failure hovering around him, yet his ambition is never shaken, even in the face of tremendous adversity. It's a remarkably mature performance from Pitt capping off a very strong year (inculding similarly solid work in THE TREE OF LIFE), suggesting that he has finally shaken totally free of his pretty boy 'star' image to become a vastly talented actor, the Robert Redford heir apparent which many have been foreseeing for years. Hill also surprises in an against-type role, but is unquestionably second fiddle to Pitt.

There is strong competition from several films in this year's Oscar race, yet MONEYBALL more than deserves to stand alongside the best of them. Subtle, heartfelt and inspiring with perfectly pitched performances, Miller, Zaillian, Sorkin and Pitt knock it out of the park.

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Metaphor-Ball

Bennett Miller showed his directing skill with CAPOTE. His perfectionism and attention to detail and dialogue, acting and setting are all here in MONEYBALL - as is CAPOTE star Philip Seymour Hoffman, who pops up as the coach of the Oakland A's baseball team. But this is not really a baseball movie. The team's general manager (ex-baseball player, Billy Beane) doesn't watch the games lest he jinx the result - and when Billy (played by Brad Pitt) turns away from the games, so does the camera. Rather than focus on the games, this is a film about the backroom wheeling and dealing, player trading and money-saving that helps buy the guys to field a team. Based on the true tale of the underfunded Oakland A's, who were so tight on budget that their players even had to buy their own soda from a machine in the dressing rooms, the movie shows how "GM" Billy Beane puts together a baseball team on a budget - using Jonah Hill's computer data to draft players.

But this ain't no baseball movie. Just like the amazing SOCIAL NETWORK script, this is a movie about dialogue. It's no surprise to find amidst the four or more credited writers such big hitters as Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. When the dialogue's good, it snap crackles and pops. This is especially so in scenes between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Indeed, as if to underline the fact that this isn't just a movie about (yawn) baseball, Jonah shows Brad a baseball player on a video and tells his story (I won't here as it may be a spoiler...) Suffice it to say that the scene ends with Hill stating the movie's subtext right out loud: "It's a metaphor." To which Brad replies: "I know it's a metaphor." We all do! It's a movie! About baseball! C'mon! We've seen THE NATURAL. Talking of which, Pitt doesn't just resemble Robert Redford anymore - he's becoming him! It's like he's channeling Redford throughout.

If this movie shines in the dialogue, then where it shines brightest is in the scenes between Brad Pitt and his 13-year-old on-screen daughter, Kerris Dorsey. These scenes spark in a manner reminiscent of Roy Scheider and his son in Spielberg's JAWS. Here, for example, is Billy Beane saying farewell to his daughter, Casey at the airport...

Billy: You're doing it again.

Casey: What?

Billy: You're worrying about me.

Casey: You're in last place dad.

Billy: Do I look worried?

Casey: Yeah.

Billy: Cause you're getting on an airplane. Those things crash all the time...

If you liked THE SOCIAL NETWORK for its dialogue and admired how Fincher made a story about computer programming accessible, then you'll love Bennett Miller's equally admirable movie. And whilst you don't have to know about baseball to enjoy it, some knowledge would help. Or then again, maybe not. This is a movie that insists on baseball being a metaphor after all... It's just a shame it had to be so darn blatant about it as to say it out loud! We know already!

4 stars for the dialogue. 1 star off for not trusting the audience to "get it." Anyway, if baseball's a metaphor, then does that mean Charlie Sheen's MAJOR LEAGUE was a deep, intellectual, meta-critique of the social welfare system and his brother Emilio's THE MIGHTY DUCKS was a searing indictment of youthful indifference... or not?