'Moneyball' starring Brad Pitt: movie review
Brad Pitt's great, but the movie, 'Moneyball,' glorifies baseball strategy a little too much.
"Moneyball" is a baseball movie that is, of course, being promoted as more than just another baseball movie. Why the inferiority complex? As "Bull Durham" and "The Bad News Bears" and many other films have already demonstrated, baseball movies are just fine being about just baseball.Skip to next paragraph
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Maybe the motivation behind all this "more than baseball" stuff is that baseball movies, except in Japan and Latin America, are not big sellers overseas, where Hollywood films often make half their money. Better not to be typecast.
On the other hand, Brad Pitt, who stars in "Moneyball" as real-life Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, is a global movie star. He is also, on occasion, an excellent actor, and this is one of those occasions. He provides ballast and a swaggering humor to a movie that, too often, strives to be "The Social Network" of baseball movies.
No surprise there, since that film's producer, Scott Rudin, and screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, are also on board for this one. (The coscreenwriter is Steven Zaillian.) But the overrated "The Social Network" was about a cultural game changer. "Moneyball," based on the eponymous nonfiction bestseller by Michael Lewis, is about something lesser. Lewis's book is subtitled "The Art of Winning an Unfair Game," and that aptly describes the film. How did a small-market team like the 2002 Oakland A's stay competitive with the lavishly moneyed likes of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox?
The answer was to remake the game. Instead of using seasoned scouts and coaches to seek out promising ballplayers using traditional methods and hunches, Beane had a "better" idea. Utilizing the system of resident spreadsheet nerd and recent Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (a composite character played by Jonah Hill), he single-mindedly went after low-priced, overlooked players with a high on-base plus slugging percentage, or OPS. These are the players who actually score runs.