Written by / 9/25/2011 / No comments / , , ,

BRAD PITT IN MONEYBALL

year: 2011 rating: ***
Baseball isn’t the most exciting sport in the world, but it’s calculating, interesting, and involving, especially once there’s something to lose...

MONEYBALL is like any good ball game: once it gets down to the wire, it really breaks stride, making up for a somewhat fledgling middle where Brad Pitt, as the General Manager of the Oakland A’s, sulks around breaking furniture because a computer-generated system of finding the perfect team without paying a lot of money… by seeking unknown yet talented players and using their combined talents… doesn’t work like expected.

There are confusing flashbacks to a young Brad Pitt who, looking nothing like him, seems like a side-story involving another character. And it takes a while for things to finally start to happen, in both the movie and the team. Although the beginning, as Pitt finds an effective sidekick in economics protégée Jonah Hill, sets a nice stage.

But soon Hills’ character, technically more important than anyone – being the brainy wizard behind the strategy – becomes part of the background, until a scene where the boss teaches his underling how to fire a player with cold efficiency. And it’s after the team starts winning, and we’re down to an important game... which would result in a record breaking twenty wins in a row... that the sparks fly.

Entering this exciting third act of the film, which had previously centered on deals within an office or by phone, we needed to see the action that’d been discussed: putting us right inside an edgy ninth inning. Brad Pitt hasn’t been this good in a while, and he’s so natural in the role, it doesn’t seem a performance at all. And that’s what makes it work. Although at times feeling like a propaganda film for the real life Billy Beane – showing everyone who disagrees with him as one-dimensional jerks – you’ll find it hard not to root for the home team.
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