By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
“It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball,” Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) says in the new movie, “Moneyball.”
“Moneyball” is the true story of how Beane and his assistant general manager Peter Brandt (Jonah Hill), a Yale economics graduate, changed the world of baseball. Instead of relying on actual recruiting, Beane and Brandt use a mathematical equation to pick up players that under other circumstances would be superstars. Instead, the other teams have dropped them for being past their prime. As Brandt refers to them, they’re an “island of misfit toys.”
Basically it comes down to the money. Oakland has about $38 million to recruit with, while teams like the Yankees have $138 million to do the same. Once Beane realizes they can’t recruit the players in the same way as everyone else, they have to do things a little differently. Everyone thinks Beane and Brandt have lost their minds, including the coach (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who thinks Beane is messing with the institution of baseball. Beane sees it for what it is, the team must ‘adapt or die.’
Beane was a player who bombed out in the major leagues himself. It wasn’t a lack of talent, just a big case of nerves. The memories still haunt him, and Pitt plays Beane with a brash attitude and uncompromising passion. “What else are we doing here?” he asks, “I’m here to win; that’s my bar.”
Pitt is incredible as Beane. He portrays Beane’s complicated emotions ranging from a very thinly veiled temper—it’s safe to say he has a passion for throwing things—to regret and a cocky swagger. His scenes opposite Hoffman are some of the standouts of the movie. He and Hill also work well together, their characters bonding over the fact that no one else really seems to like them.
“Moneyball” is an exceptionally well-made movie. Bennett Miller directs the film in a style that could be a cross between “Friday Night Lights” and sports films of the 70s, very heavy on the nostalgia of baseball. But it’s also honest about the nature of that business, which is not always pleasant.
The movie, co-written by Aaron Sorkin, is long on passion and the kind you want to cheer for, even if you know how it’s going end for the A’s. The creators don’t try to make “Moneyball” into a Cinderella story. Even if you don’t like baseball, there‘s plenty of humor and heart to keep you interested in the story. “Moneyball” is easily one of the best films of the year, and Pitt gives one of the best performances of his career.