Star-studded baseball film mired in clichés and with scenes that fall flat
Moneyball is a baseball movie that aims for universal appeal by casting Brad Pitt as a maverick general manager, having climactic scenes revolving around a strained father/daughter relationship, and in its strongest moments, being about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of a sports club.
Based on the true story of how Oakland Athletic in the 2002 season changed baseball by using statistics rather than the hunches of scouts to choose baseball players, this is the second fiction film from Capote director Bennett Miller. Despite a strong opening featuring some sharp dialogue from scriptwriters Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), the action soon finds itself mired a series of sports movies clichés. Chief amongst them is the ‘coach that doesn’t believe in modern methods’ played by a one-dimensional Philip Seymour Hoffman. There are also several scenes that don’t stand up: Pitt’s Billy Beane waltzing into the office of the unknown statistician Peter Brand (Johah Hill showing he can do drama as well as comedy) and offering him a job is incredulous. Also, the team’s 20-game winning streak is shown in a boring montage. Where the film does hit home, weirdly, is in making the trading of players exciting. Go figure.
General release from Fri 25 Nov.