Charlie’s Pick of the Week: Brad Pitt Scores in “Moneyball”

Charlie Greenwald

Moneyball: Rated PG-13, In Theatres Now

Right now, the Oakland Athletics are under .500 and will not make the playoffs. With no star players and an underwhelming season, the A’s never rake in the viewers.

But now, you can go see a fantastic movie about the Oakland Athletics.

Granted, there haven’t been many movies made about Oakland in general. But “Moneyball,” a new film about the Oakland A’s and their successful 2002 season, is scoring with critics and baseball fans alike.

Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s General Manager who attempts to reconstruct his ailing baseball club on a minimal budget. He hires Yale graduate Peter Brand, who’s played by Jonah Hill, to help him reconstruct the team based on the complex statistical analyses of players. The real name of Hill’s character is Paul DePodesta, a Cardinals scout, but the name was changed for the movie. The film also stars the chameleonic Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe, the Athletics manager and Beane’s opposition.

Penning the film is Academy Award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, fresh off his win last year for “The Social Network.” Sorkin’s scripts are often witty and swift, but if you really focus, you can catch every joke and every detail.

Already, the film has garnered raves from Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and the Chicago Tribune. It is even been picked as an awards-season frontrunner.

Now I know a lot of you are thinking—why don’t I just wait for it on DVD?

First of all, this movie will prepare you for the baseball playoffs. With Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill talking baseball a mile a minute, there’s no better way to reacquaint yourself with the baseball world and the playoff ambiance.

Secondly, the three lead actors represent a different kind of actor for everyone. There’s Philip Seymour Hoffman, the exceptional character actor, who transforms into Art Howe. Jonah Hill turns in a hilarious and moving performance as Peter, whose ambition and heart is matched only by his intelligence. And then you have Brad Pitt, leading man extraordinaire, with an alluring charm and campy appeal that crosses over with ease into the sports world. He can inspire boys and swoon girls, master tabloids and command the silver screen. As Beane, Pitt proves his acting ability is like fine wine; it only gets better with age.

Finally, there are so many bad movies out today that when a great one comes along, it deserves your attention and money. This is a truly great movie about so much more than baseball. At its core, it speaks volumes about how the underdog can come out on top with just the right amount of preparation and patience. Beane’s unorthodox scouting style, which boils down to analytical specificities and selections, proves that you don’t need 10 star players to make a baseball team great. All you need is the right combination of athletes with various specialties to make your team a true unit.

The film also satirizes, with terrific accuracy, the absurd salaries of athletes. Parodying ridiculously prosperous athletes at that time like Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter, “Moneyball” hits the nail right on the head, exploiting the ridiculous backdoor transactions and the lengths higher-ups go to in order to keep their golden boys.

But why are these athletes paid so much?

Sports teams earn tremendous revenue, but the team needs to maintain some consistency in terms of occasionally being able to win. When a team lags, their ticket sales go down and merchandise stops selling. This movie proves that you don’t need to pay hefty sums for all the best players in order to stay on top; as long as you put solid athletes where they excel, you can sculpt a team out of pedestrian athletes with particular fortes. It’s possible to keep up with Goliath if David plays his cards right and manages his budget.

Instead of going out and watching a dumb movie like “Abduction” with the hopeless Taylor Lautner or “I Don’t Know How She Does It” with the annoying Sarah Jessica Parker, let yourself enjoy a sports movie. Spend some money and treat yourselves and a loved one to a truly entertaining and well-made movie that has more to speak about than home runs and stolen bases.

And ladies, if you don’t think a sports movie isn’t for you, remember—it’s Brad Pitt.