Movie Review: Moneyball

By Stephen Rebello

Brad Pitt gives an award-nomination performance in the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' best-selling book.

Director: Bennett Miller Rating: PG-13 Studio: Michael De Luca Productions

Right from the jump, Moneyball gets you feeling—and pulling—for Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. As played by Brad Pitt in a lived-in, rumpled, flat-out great performance, Beane is quite a character—an emotionally detached, tobacco-chewing, junk food-guzzling loner, a former golden boy gone to seed.

His own pro ball career a painful, distant memory, Beane tries for self-redemption by making winners out of a team guys who’ve been passed over as too flakey, inconsistent, quirky, unreliable and old. Off the field, he’s dealing with the pain of a divorce from his beautiful, happily hitched ex-wife (Robin Wright) and trying to build bridges with his smart young daughter (Kerris Dorsey). When deep-pocketed ball clubs leech his best players, he alienates his crotchety cronies (like Philip Seymour Hoffman) by betting the farm on an unprepossessing, whip-smart new Yale grad played by Jonah Hill, who shows him how to put together an affordable playoff team through objective computer analysis. The team gets assembled, all right, but Beane nearly loses everything by putting his faith in Hill’s game-changing system of statistical analysis.

If you’re looking for rah-rah, jump-up-and-cheer moments, this probably isn’t a movie for you. Instead, the muted, elegiac, smart and very entertaining Moneyball, beautifully directed by Bennett Miller (Capote) from a terrific screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin based on Michael Lewis’s first-rate book, is a baseball movie for people in love with—or once in love with—the game. But it’s more a graceful, poetic, beautifully acted character study of people getting second and third chances to do over what they’ve muffed the first time around. With an award nomination caliber performance from Pitt and terrific work from Jonah Hill, Moneyball is one of the year’s classier movies.

About the Author

Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.


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