By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
“Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt isn’t your regular baseball movie.
Wins and losses matter, but the bulk of the action happens off the field, as Billy Beane (Pitt) risks his career to find a new way for the Oakland Athletics to win baseball games.
The A’s aren’t a wealthy team, and that’s never more true than when three of the team’s stars get fat contracts to play for other teams.
With no money to get more stars and a powerful aversion to losing, Beane looks for an answer. He finds Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale-educated economist who has a new system to pick players.
This might sound like dry stuff that only a baseball statistician could enjoy, but the film makes it surprisingly accessible.
That’s partly accomplished by the story of Scott Hatteberg (Chris Platt). We see him depressed at the holidays because his career is over. Then Beane offers him new life because Brand’s system judges Hatteberg to be a fantastic bargain.
The movie was adapted from Michael Lewis’ book, “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” a true account of Beane’s quest to find the best players for the money.
In the baseball world, there are questions about Lewis’ conclusions, and those same questions apply to the movie.
But Pitt puts a human side to the story, with help from writers Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Pitt shines in scenes with Beane’s daughter (Kerris Dorsey), letting the audience know more is at stake than a successful season.
As Beane’s assistant general manager, Hill is a solid performer who delivers comedic relief along with more dramatic moments.
Philip Seymour Hoffman turns Oakland’s skipper Art Howe into a worthy adversary for Beane.
Even with all the positives, I left the theater thinking 20 to 30 minutes of editing would have created a tighter, better film.
“Moneyball” is entertaining, but other reviews led me to expect better.
I give it a B.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7 gives “Moneyball” an A. “Brad Pitt is my generation’s Robert Redford.”