Arise, Computer Geeks! Your movie is here! After years of gradually replacing second bananas with Chubby Little Nerds, you’ve finally lured Brad Pitt to the cool side. From now on, the sky’s the limit in the new movie “Moneyball,” currently playing in neighborhood stadiums everywhere.
Considering how many times baseball has come to bat in Hollywood, there are really only a few solid hits in the genre. The Pitt-produced “Moneyball” is surely going to rank among the top five or six, right up there with “Pride of the Yankees” and “Bull Durham.”
Although the film is sometimes as long as a real baseball game (i.e. seemingly endless), the power and charm of Brad and his buddy fighting the powers-that-be carries the day. Jonah Hill, that “Superbad” guy, are the unlikely heroes in this movie based on the real story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics unlikely season.
Brad plays real-life Billy Beane in a Robert Redford Lite performance, with Philip Seymour Hoffman as real-life grumpola manager Art Howe.
The fascinating story – as penned for the screen by heavyweights Steven Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) and Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) – concerns how the Oakland General Manager, Beane, changed baseball thinking by putting together a bargain basement ballclub through relying on statistics instead of the judgement of his scouts. He hired a Harvard economics grad (in the movie Jonah Hill says he went to Yale) and they used statistical data to pick their players. In a peanut shell, that’s it.
It’s basically the Bad News Bears. Except it really happened. And the stories of their various cut-rate players are sprinkled throughout the movie, always moving it forward. Beane had 40 million dollars to spend on the salaries for his team. The Yankees, by contrast, had 126 million, and could afford the “best” players.
Baseball fans will undoubtedly remember what happened. Not being one myself, I didn’t. But both groups will enjoy this film, including the brief cameos by 13-year-old Kerris Dorsey, playing Beane’s daughter, who virtually stole the off-the-field goings-on.
Computer Geeks, Statistic-Keepers and Numerical Nerds have been waiting for this movie to come along since the invention of the Abacus met the founding of baseball. Surprisingly enough, it’s interesting and charming and uplifting – basically everything you’d want in a movie about real life.
Brad Pitt should probably stick to roles like this, based on actual down-to-earth characters. He’s quite likeable, and a long ways from his “Troy” fiasco.
I’d hate to call this film “cerebral,” a tag that usually dooms a movie to oblivion, but it is so well written and directed and acted that you’ll find yourself siding with the brainiacs who, at least in this happy instance, turn out to be right.
Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen