Moneyball

2011-12-01 12:01
 
What it's about:

Based on a true story, Moneyball tells of the unlikely partnership between jaded Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) and Ivy League grad Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) who together developed a revolutionary system in baseball that used statistical information to help them recruit the right players - at the right price - to help them win the next game.

What we thought:

Just as well Moneyball stars the biggest movie idol in the world right now because there is little about baseball that would appeal to mainstream South African movie fans, I don't think. But will the presence of Mr Angelina Jolie be reason enough to get rugby and soccer mad local interested? It's not as if everyone flocked to the cinemas to see Brad Pitt play a conflicted father in Terence Malick's gorgeous love letter to childhood The Tree of Life.

Even so, Moneyball is wonderfully entertaining and heart-on-sleeve sports movie. Director Bennett Miller shows so much respect for baseball that he is as willing to show how heartless and cold the modern game has become with as much fervour as he depicts the love and awe it inspires in the sport's fans. Even if baseball just looks like a less skilled version of cricket to you, it'll be hard to resist the pull of the all-American pursuit of success that drives the action in the movie.

Moneyball is an expertly staged sports drama that lays bare the reality of the modern game. Based on Beane and Brand's system, the under-pressure Oakland A's need only recruit players based on their game statistics and the worth they have in a particular role. So unfancied players Scott Hatteberg (played by Chris Pratt) and the over-the-hill David Justice (Stephen Bishop) are given a shot at proving their worth when no other team would even give them a second look.

Meanwhile, Beane reveals himself to be a scrupulous manager who loves and believes in baseball enough to destroy a few egos along the way. As a characert study, Moneyball is particularly excellent, allowing Pitt to play a conflicted but fully realised persona who has endured a hard path to success - both professionally and as a divorced father.

Pitt plays Beane with a magnetic, cool confidence that comes so naturally to him - but this is far from just another dependable performance from him. Here is an unmissable performance that is both intimate and mesmerising, brash and soulful, but always driven by his love for the game and his daughter. His scenes with his onscreen daughter are particularly moving.

Jonah Hill (in one of his last pre-weightloss roles) also impresses as Beane's intelligent but inexperienced understudy. He can't quite keep up with Pitt's infectious energy but puts in a solid performance that goes beyond the comic sidekick.

Elsewhere Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in Miller's Capote, gets a thankless task playing the jaded "villain" of the piece, Oakland A's coach Art Howe, and Hoffman is also saddled with that most unflattering of sport costumes for the chubby man - the baseball strip.

It's sharp, surprising and shot through with enough easy humour to make it one of the standout releases of 2011.

Even if baseball is not your bag, and it most certainly is not mine, then the cinematic spoils Moneyball and Pitt, in particular, have to offer should more than suffice.

Not to be missed.


South Africans may care very little about baseball, but Brad Pitt's exceptional performance and a sharp, surprisingly entertaining script make this one of the year's best movies.
Read more on:    jonah hill  |  brad pitt  |  review  |  movies  |  baseball

Elsa 2011/12/06 1:24 PM
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Moneyball - Baseball movie
Sam Wilson 2011/12/07 1:35 PM
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It felt extremely LONG. That's never a good sign.
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