Moneyball is not a sports movie. If a genre existed where drama was supplanted at times by pure statistics, you’d find this film their ultimate staple. But alas, everybody looking for a rags-to-riches story of a team that found heart amidst the game, be warned: Moneyball isn’t about the team at all. It’s about general manager Billy Beane, with all other events auxiliary.
Now that we’re past that disclaimer, it’s safe to say that Moneyball is a fantastic movie. Brad Pitt acts with the nuance worthy of his stature and legacy within a solid, layered script. Dramatic tension rises and falls at all the right points, and the cinematography is intriguing simply because it’s a refreshing take upon the sports movie look and feel. Few shots in the entirety of the film feature our actors on the field, instead what’s either actual or manipulated footage plays in lower-definition as if the audience are truly watching highlights on old boxy televisions. It’s both a bold and yet somewhat disappointing approach, keeping with its own trend of hyper-pixelated close-ups but alienating viewers from the actual gameplay, which could have featured the array of characters playing the game.
Speaking of disappointments, Jonah Hill did his job here, but the only reason he seems to be in this film is because he pulls a younger crowd. He’s funny when he needs to be, but never anything above okay. It’s hard to compete of course with Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but if the casting crew were looking for a young actor with the capabilities to fill in alongside these two, it’s no stretch to believe that a few better actors could have been found. At least Chris Pratt (Andy from Parks & Rec) held his own here in a much more serious role than he’s used to playing. Last but not least, Hoffman did a great job in his minor part, but if you didn’t expect that you haven’t seen him act before. The man can play any part he needs to, and fits right in here as a solid support character.
Who is Moneyball for though? Anybody looking for this year’s hopeful story of courage and besting the odds will find Moneyball essentially good enough, partly because it’s more about one man’s journey than it is the team’s resolve. Pitt simply becomes Beane though, and because of this the entire film is shot and even the music scored from his perspective. It’s a unique and unforgettable look into the life and struggles of a manager with everything to lose. So if you’re looking for a great drama with decent writing and some well-earned feel-good moments, make sure to pick Moneyball up when you can.