CliqueClack Flicks

Moneyball is Brad Pitt’s ticket back to the Oscars

Moneyball - Theater Review
Release Date: 11/23/2011 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 5 Clacks

The story of 'Moneyball' is all about Billy Beane doing more with less. Brad Pitt wasn't burdened with that disadvantage, as the great script was just a part of his outstanding performance.

It’s kind of funny to think that Brad Pitt has only been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor once: for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (he also picked up a nod for Best Supporting Actor for 12 Monkeys). His turn as Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane in Moneyball will earn him another nomination, and he has got a great chance of finally winning. I’ve not read Michael Lewisbook, but I suspect where the source material was focused on the story of the A’s, the movie is more of a character piece about the man behind the story.

The broad strokes are simple enough. Oakland doesn’t make the revenues to compete in free agency with rich teams like the Yankees and Red Sox. Beane tries to change the dynamic by hiring Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill in a rare dramatic role, a numbers guy who wants to use a computer program to build a team. This doesn’t go over to well with the baseball purists on the staff, especially coach Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). After some stumbling around, the A’s manage to have a pretty good season, but good enough to surpass the previous year’s playoff loss? Well, that would be telling (or you could Google it).

What makes Moneyball great is Pitt as Beane. The story includes flashbacks to his disappointing career as a player; he was THE can’t miss prospect out of college, and that experience clouds his opinions of traditional baseball scouting, even though that’s how he got his start in management. Also central to the fabric of who this man is the relationship he has with his daughter. His fear of failing has less to do with proving his system, and more to do with not wanting to disappoint his daughter. Even in Beane’s final choice in the film, he continues down a path that is completely logical for his character.

It would be hard to talk about Moneyball without mentioning how awesome Hill’s performance was as well. He was understated, which was exactly what the role called for opposite Pitt. The role wasn’t without its funny moments, but Hill really played a different type of straight man newbie to Pitt’s experienced baseball wonk.

I was also a big fan of Kerris Dorsey, who played Beane’s daughter Casey. Her song that she sang for her father throughout the movie reminded the audience each time how Beane was grounded and connected to his daughter. Pitt deserves the accolades he’ll get for his performance, but it would have been incomplete without Dorsey and Hill to work with.

There was one thing that I was a little disappointed with, however. I’ve always been a big fan of Aaron Sorkin‘s writing, and I was looking forward to hearing his distinctive style of writing in Pitt’s performance. That wasn’t to be. I’m not sure how Sorkin’s participation manifested itself in the finished product, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. This disappointment isn’t meant to disparage the writing, which was phenomenal; it just wasn’t what I was expecting.



Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

6 Responses to “Moneyball is Brad Pitt’s ticket back to the Oscars”

September 23, 2011 at 11:13 AM

I have read Moneyball – fantastic book. I think you’d love it, Ivey. But I never, ever could have imagined Brad Pitt in the role of Billy Beane. Still, I’m going to check out this movie just to see how the filmmakers turned a book about sabermetrics into what looks like a Disneyfied inspirational story (not that that’s a bad thing – who doesn’t love Remember the Titans?).

September 23, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I’m not sure that inspirational is the right term, and I would definitely not say that Remember the Titans is a touchstone for Moneyball.

I think that every time the movie could have even looked in the direction of over the top cheesy sports movie, it stays away (Well, there IS some cute stuff with the daughter). But I LIKE these choices.

September 23, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Yeah, the trailer just gave me that impression. And I was hearing it compared to The Blind Side. All in all, it sounds like it’s being marketed as one of those inspirational, feel-good sports movies. Which is funny, because the book is not like that at all.

September 23, 2011 at 12:23 PM

And very well may be, I just didn’t get that.

And The Blind Side comparisons are likely there because Michael Lewis wrote The Blind Side, too :). Thematically, I don’t think they’re similar at all.

December 31, 2011 at 4:27 AM

Somebody essentially help to make critically posts I’d state. That is the first time I frequented your web page and to this point? I surprised with the research you made to create this actual post extraordinary. Great activity!

December 31, 2011 at 7:12 AM

Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I have really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing in your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

Powered By OneLink