(Based on true baseball story)
Even Joyce, who doesn't follow baseball, liked this fascinating story based on the Oakland A's general manager, Billy Beane. It is told intelligently, filled with humor, tension and a behind-the-scenes look at the world of professional baseball.
Although, the writers take some poetic license with Michael Lewis' book about Billy Beane and his quest to take a small-market team with a $39 million budget up against the big-market New York Yankees, with a budget of $114 million.
The movie is a dream project of Brad Pitt, who stars as Beane, complete with all of his drive, passion and flaws as he goes up against all of the baseball "rules" and thinks and acts outside of the box to bring the A's out of the cellar to become a contender.
The brains behind Beane is a nerdy young Yale economics graduate named Peter Brand, whose mind excels in statistics and advises his new boss to think in unheard-of reasons for getting his players to fill the holes left by the trades of Damon, Garcia and others.
Jonah Hill, who has played losers in a number of films we have not liked, is terrific as Brand, a walking computer who thinks on his feet and shows wonderment at his quick decisions and their results. The reactions of the A's staff and management are classic, as Beane and Brand build their team.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman is good as manager Art Howe, who throws roadblocks in front of Beane, only to later bask in his success. There are side issues involving Beane's ex-wife and daughter that don't get in the way of the baseball story but have a subtle effect on him.
The clever writing gets us inside the head of this complex man who must make decisions that affect the future of his team and its individual members. We get a close-up look at the difficult decisions that must be made as Beane attempts to "reinvent baseball.”
While baseball is a game, it is also big business. And we get a peek at how brutal that business can be. If you've forgotten those years beginning in 2002 (I can't even remember who won the World Series every year), "Moneyball" will bring them back vividly.
Stay around for the "where are they now” scenes, plus an ironic ending that you may have forgotten about involving the Red Sox.
Rated PG-13, with minor profanity. A must for baseball fans and a treat even for the uninitiated.