Moneyball (based off of the book by Michael Lewis) follows Beane as he tries to reinvent the way teams look at players. This easily could have been a film that got so lost in its "inside baseball" world of statistics that it would have shut itself from your typical moviegoer and drove them into confusion. It also could have easily been a film that was so dumbed down that it would have driven any moviegoer into complete boredom. In addition, to this Moneyball is a nonfiction book that isn't trying to write a story but explain how an entire game works. Any screenwriter would have the difficult task of turning a book with no cinematic structure into an engaging film. The fact that Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) are able to pull this script off is a true testament to why they are considered two of the best in the industry.
The film is handled well by director Bennett Miller (Capote), but this is clearly a screenwriter's film. The greatest compliment I can give Miller is that he does the right thing and let the screenplay run the film. The screenplay proves itself to be the driving force of the film as it creates two compelling characters, a snappy dialogue and a quick pace (for the most part). The one problem this film has is that it takes a while to engross the viewer into the world of Billy Beane. As soon as it does, though, the film gains a fast pace and you wouldn't believe that you spent over two hours at the theater by the end of it.
The acting is another highlight of the film as it perfectly reinforces the power of Sorkin and Zaillian's screenplay. Brad Pitt is perfectly cast as Billy Beane. Pitt doesn't completely lose himself in the film like he did in The Tree of Life, but the fact that he actually brings a little bit of his star power into the film actually makes his performance all the better. Pitt's charisma completely anchors the film, but it is also easy to see why he became famous in the first place with this film. He is simply a great actor. Just watch what he does without even saying a single word in the final scene of the film. He conveys so much through his facial expressions and shows how a real actor does it. This, however, is not the most surprising thing about the cast. That belongs to Jonah Hill actually having a good performance in a film. Hill takes a good character off the page and turns him into a believable person. He is still funny but never over the top.
While there is no big turns from the supporting cast, it is a solid one. Philip Seymour Hoffman continues to make acting look easy. Chris Pratt makes a sympathetic character with little screen time and Kerris Dorsey more than holds her own against Brad Pitt as hid character's daughter. However, Pitt and Hill are the highlights of the cast and maybe the onscreen team of the year.
Moneyball is superbly written and acted film that focuses on a complex subject.
I would just like to point out that, as a baseball fan, it was really easy to notice how unrealistic this film was. The film tries to portray the A's team as an underdog team when in reality they had the best pitching staff in the game. The film constantly reminds us that the team had no superstars but their starting pitching staff was led by such names as Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder. Also, the film portrays the scouts as the bad guys, but, in reality, these were the guys that got Hudson, Zito and Mulder on the team. As always, this is just a film version of the story (a fictional reality). Therefore, these errors should have no impact on how I enjoyed the film (and it didn't), I just thought it would be right to point out.