DRAMA; 2hr 13min
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Positive logic: from left, Pitt and Hill
Gearing up for the 2002 season, the Oakland Athletics baseball team is in lousy shape with three star players quitting the already minor-league outfit. Based on the 2003 book by Michael Lewis, Moneyball is the true-life story of how failed baseballer and A’s general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) turned the low-budgeted crew around through implementing a hiring policy of statistically calculating players’ strengths by examining each game. It matters not to Beane and his economics-wunderkind offsider, Peter Brand (Hill), if a player has a physical weakness or a dodgy rep, providing he has a compensatory on-base positive to offer. Traditionalist team scouts and the A’s gruff coach, Art Howe (Hoffman), are predictably incensed but as it happens, they’re dead wrong.
If this comes across as dry and insider, it’s not at all. Director Bennett Miller (Capote) is an agile storyteller with a dream date star: a smart, thorny operator with sledgehammer style, Pitt-as-Beane is compelled, insecure and intriguing. Layer that with the political push-pull of players traded by phone in minutes, the wham-bam backroom meltdowns, the onfield showmanship and the thrill of a whopping winning streak and we’re talking thinker’s surprise package.