Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Friday, September 23, 2011


The Romance of Baseball

Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin, Michael Lewis (book: "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game")
Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Stephen Bishop

SYNOPSIS: Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's, struggles to put together a baseball team on a budget, ultimately bucking the tried-and-true established tradition of recruiting baseball players by employing computer-generated analysis.

REVIEW: Bennett Miller, director of Capote from 2006, returns to the captain's chair to direct te new sports drama Moneyball. Based on the book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" penned by Michael Lewis and brought to the big screen by Steven Zaillian (Scindler's List, Gangs of New York), Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network) from a story by Stan Chervin, the film follows the struggles of Major League Baseball's Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane and his struggles to field a competitive and competent baseball team with a monetary budget a fraction of the amount that successful winning teams have.

Centering around the General Manager of the Oakland A's from the end of the 2001 season where the A's lost the ALDS series to the Yankees, getting to the play-offs with stars like Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen, and Johnny Damon. After losing the series, big-market ball clubs pick off the A's premier stars with bigger paydays. Trying to rework his team, former player turned scout turned A's General Manager Billy Beane struggles to replace and rebuild due to the monetary cap of the small-market club. Where the New York Yankees have $142 million to spend on their players, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) attempts to put a competitive team together with a 1/5th that amount. Realizing that the tried-and-true "five tools" method of scouting and recruiting isn't going to help him develop a winning franchise, he runs across Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale graduate with a economics degree providing player analysis for the Cleveland Indians, and starts prospecting for the 2002 season with players that are undervalued on paper according to Brand but contradicts all the scouting wisdom that had become the mainstay for recruiting.

For the novice or the sports ignorant, Billy Beane's quest for the Oakland A's to return to the post-season is illuminating and riveting. Can a team from the "...island of misfit toys..." complete and excel against powerhouse ball clubs? Will the fans, sports radio and the public turn against Beane because of his unorthodox decisions? Will Beane and Brand have the support of the A's ownership, the coach, the scouts and the players?

Brad Pitt is worthy of the role he embodies for Moneyball. With an easy smile that hides an uneasy major league ball player past, a failed marriage and a daughter he only wants the best for, Pitt's character is both fearless and fearful, filled with regret and desire to change the game for the better. Jonah Hill's Peter Brand statistics analyst is stoic and smart. His deadpan deliveries during interchanges with Beane get quite a few laughs, even while Hill plays the straight man. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays A's coach Art Howe like a lumbering bear, reluctant to work with Beane's new strategies while he tries to keep his own job and reputation above reproach. Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreations) joins as unsure first baseman Scott Hatteberg and Stephen Bishop rounds out the primary cast as over-the-hill unwanted veteran David Justice.

Not as epic as The Natural, silly as A League of their Own, or nostalgic as Field of Dreams, Moneyball is a grounded and interesting look at a real-life modern major league ballclub, looking at Beane and Brand as both innovators and madmen, daring to throw away decades of tradition surrounding America's Favorite Pastime. The aforementioned films serve to romanticize a sport that is engrained in our national consciousness, but Moneyball throws in a solid sliding pitch into the sports drama genre.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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