Australians already have enough trouble with baseball, so a baseball drama that spends hardly any time on the field seems like a tough sell. But Moneyball was penned by dialogue guru Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and stars Brad Pitt, so while it’s definitely more talky than sporty, it’s also quite brilliant.
Pitt brings gravitas and nuanced charm to the true story Billy Beane, the general manager of Major League Baseball team, the Oakland A's. Frustrated at loosing players to richer teams, Beane and his number-crunching Yale economics grad recruit (Jonah Hill) take a statistical approach to selecting players during the 2002 season, ultimately making an unexpected play for the World Series.
Director Bennett Miller (Capote) maximises his talents here, while funnyman Jonah Hill is a remarkable straight man. Philip Seymour Hoffman is comparatively underused as Bean’s gruffly incredulous coach, Art Howe, yet both he and the game of baseball itself punctuate all the statistical chat well.
Smart, witty and impeccably produced, Moneyball is the thinking person's sports film.
Published in The Big Issue #393
Australian release date: 10 November 2011