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Moneyball: right on the money, sports fan or not

Kim Larkin

Wed Nov 23 2011

Brad Pitt stars in Moneyball

BRAD Pitt and Jonah Hill star in this remarkable portrayal of underdog baseball team the Oakland Athletics and their rise to greatness.

A MOVIE about the politics of American baseball from the perspective of a team of underdogs doesn’t sound like the most interesting concept. You might find yourself asking “why am I bothering? I don’t know anything about baseball.”

Well, the great thing about Moneyball is that you don’t have to. You don’t need to know the difference between baseball and basketball to enjoy this film. Moneyball is an inspirational sporting film that doesn’t actually have much to do with sport.

The film begins early in 2002, and the Oakland Athletics are one of the poorest baseball teams in the US. Despite their manager Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) best attempts to establish a winning team, the outlook seems bleak. When Beane meets and hires Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) as his assistant, the pair attempt unconventional methods to create winners by using computer programs and statistics, otherwise known as the “sabermetric” method.

Pitt delivers another mature performance, with a depiction of Beane that is both moving and enigmatic. However it’s Jonah Hill that really surprises. Best known for his comedic roles in Superbad and Get Him to the Greek, Hill plays the serious Brand astoundingly well and the chemistry and camaraderie between Bitt and Hill allows the film to avoid any ounce of monotony.

Chris Pratt, Brad Pitt and director Bennett Miller on the take to the green carpet at the premier of Moneyball

Chris Pratt, Brad Pitt and director Bennett Miller take to the green carpet at the premier of Moneyball in Oakland, California

The sensational thing about Moneyball is that director Bennett Miller (who also directed Capote) manages to take a niche subject (to non-American audiences at least) and turn it into a witty, compelling drama accessible by anyone. As a fairly new and unknown director, his talent and abilities are evident. He has taken on a complicated and somewhat unimaginative story and created an engrossing film in Moneyball, and apart from its length there is nothing that can be faulted.

Baseball lore and politics aren’t for everyone, but Moneyball is so moving in content and honest in direction and performance that it gets you rooting for the underdogs, hating the haters, and being enchanted by the world of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s.

Watch it as a sporting fan, watch it as a Brad Pitt fan, just watch it.