“MONEYBALL” – 4 STARS

I’m a sucker for a good baseball movie and “Moneyball” is a good baseball movie. But it’s not a traditional baseball movie. Based off of Michael Lewis’ book, “Moneyball” is the story of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and the team’s 2002 baseball season. In much the same way as “The Social Network” was a successful movie about Facebook, “Moneyball” takes sabermetrics, something that doesn’t seem like movie material, and creates a thoroughly engaging film around it.

At it’s core, “Moneyball” is a film about old versus new. It’s about winning or losing. It’s about adapting or dying. It’s a baseball movie but there is so much more going on underneath the surface. It’s an intelligent film that lives off of it’s clever and often witty script instead of the “stand up and cheer” moments that you usually get in sports movies. Another positive is that this isn’t a movie just for baseball fans. Obviously it will resonate with those familiar with the game but there is plenty of great character work to please anyone who appreciates good films.

This movie would never work without the strong performance from Brad Pitt. I’m certainly not the biggest Brad Pitt fan, but here he gives steady and somewhat restrained performance. He never overdoes it and his Billy Beane character feels natural and authentic. Pitt is hindered by a script that doesn’t allow for much emotion from the main character. With the exception of a couple of brief angry outbursts we rarely see what Billy is like inside. I would love to see Pitt flesh out this particular character a little more.

“Moneyball” may not sound like your cup of tea but there’s plenty to like here and it’s merits are hard to deny. Pitt shows that he is a solid actor and when he reigns in his performance he can deliver something memorable. He effortlessly handles the slick and polished dialogue while submerging himself into a character that’s thoroughly engaging. “Moneyball” is a fun and memorable experience that not only satisfies the baseball fan in me but also the fan of great storytelling.

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