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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Brad Pitt
Jonah Hill
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Robin Wright
Chris Pratt.
Directors
Bennett Miller.
Screenwriters
Steve Zaillian
Aaron Sorkin.
Running Time
133 minutes

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Moneyball
Brad Pitt game changer


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Plot
Based on the true story of Billy Beane (Pitt), the general manager of a failing, cash-strapped baseball team. In order to make a winning team with no money, he's going to have to change the sport. So, with the help of a smart young analyst (Hill), he attempts to use a new formula to re-write the rules of the game.


Review
Moneyball
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There are many marks that a great sports movie has to hit. They’re not even really clichés, just essential parts without which the movie will not work. There must be an underdog for whom to root. There must be at least one game in which it seems like the central team will lose everything, but then they claw it back. Similarly, there must be a game in which they seem to have things sewn up and then it all goes wrong. There must be a cocky player who gets knocked down to size. There must be a bit of a speech in the locker room. You could take those out for originality’s sake, but your film will be less satisfying for it. Moneyball has all these things, but what makes it particularly interesting is that it largely lacks something on which most sports movies rely: sport.

Moneyball isn’t a movie about what happens on the pitch; it’s about what happens off it. It’s about an attempt not to win the big prize, but to change everything, to leave behind not a packed trophy cabinet but a legacy. Brad Pitt is Billy Beane (a name so aw-shucks trite that it can only have been real), the general manager of the Oakland A’s, a team with a history of never quite making history. With a comparatively tiny budget, he keeps losing his best players and can’t afford to buy more. But in the middle of a failed negotiation to buy someone cheap from another team, he happens across owlish young analyst Peter Brand (a smartly underplaying Jonah Hill) who calculates the value of players not according to their ability to catch/run/hit a ball three states, but on their ability to just get on base and therefore increase the likelihood of runs. With Brand’s intricate formulas and big charts, the pair set to piecing together a team of unfancied players who have various defects but enough complementary skills to make a great team, even if they are not a team of great players. They are the broken biscuits of baseball.

We don’t really get to know any of these team members especially well, because they don’t really matter. We meet one, to establish that Beane’s little experiment is changing some lives for the better, but their personal triumphs aren’t important, to the point that we barely see them play. What is important is whether Beane and Brand’s gamble is working, whether they can prove to the numerous old men of the game — shown in a number of excellently cranky scenes of Pitt around the table with his ancient advisors — that new thinking can work. That’s not really the stuff of sports movie glory. How can you have the catharsis of the win without getting right into the game? But that comes from Beane, a former player who never fulfilled his potential, finding another way to leave his mark. It’s a movie about second chances and showing that your obvious skills are not necessarily your greatest gifts.

Making stats not just interesting but exciting is a hugely difficult task — there are few things duller than graphs and PowerPoints. You don’t punch the air because a formula turned out to be correct. But the script, by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, digs into the emotion and determination of the two men. Sorkin can whittle a line like few other writers but he can tend towards making his characters talk like absolutely everybody’s listening. In Moneyball it’s dialled down; the wit more throwaway than Sorkin is usually given to. It lightens the whole film, and the very best moments are not defined by their dialogue but their flow. The film’s stand-out scene comes as Beane negotiates — almost bluffs — his way through a deal across three different clubs and three different phones. He starts out with absolutely nothing, but by knowing when to speak and when to shut up he comes out on top. It’s the perfect encapsulation of Beane and why he’s the team you will to win through the film: he will battle his way out of every corner, flinging out charm and bravado until he gets his way. You’re cheering him to victory in the dying seconds.

Pitt has stuck with this movie through several directors (Steven Soderbergh and Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel both came close to making it) and several years of studio foot-shuffling. His persistence has paid dividends with what will likely be one of his most enduring roles. His almost goofy charm keeps Beane from being unsympathetically cocky, always a risk with characters with such a dick-waving job. The direction of Bennett Miller (Capote) is efficient and judicious rather than dazzling but lets the innate quality of his constituent parts shine. He’s headed a complicated movie about the science of sport and made what is, for all its lack of action on the diamond, the most uplifting, exciting sports movie since Friday Night Lights.


Verdict
You don't need to understand anything of baseball to get behind this, a chest-swelling story about second chances and flipping a finger up (even a giant foam one) to The Man.


Reviewed by Olly Richards

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Moneyball
Empire Star Rating

RE: Moneyball

Moneyball (2011) Based on a novel which in turn is based on the real events of GM Billy Beane and his budget Oakland Athletics team during the 02 season. Started out kinda dull to be honest and I was getting a bit twitchy thinking I had made a mistake but after Beane (Pitt) hires his young assistant things really picked up. It is a serious story about true events but its made in a light hearted enjoyable way with many humorous moments and not drowning you in baseball stats or dialog h... More

Posted by Phubbs at 04:45, 25 September 2012 | Report This Post


Moneyball

I think it's a good film but not a great one and I don't see the Oscar fuss surrounding the two main actors either, Pitt barely gets out of 2nd gear and Jonah Hill did practically nothing noteworthy for the entire film. You could have also replaced Seymour-Hoffman with anyone - a strangely lacklustre effort from a great actor. I think Moneyball drags in parts, and while you can't get over the brilliance of the true life story I don't think it can maintain itself for the full running time.... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 21:41, 24 September 2012 | Report This Post


Truly Excellent, Truly Enjoyable, Truly Engaging

As a 19 year old baseball fan living in the uk, I know very little of the history of the sport or notable past games and events, but I am always fascinated to hear such stories whenever I can. Because of this, Moneyball appealed to me immediately, but don't let it be said that any prior knowledge of the sport is necessary. It's not even necessary to have any interest in sport in general to appreciate Moneyball. It triumphs on its' own merits as a human drama that manages to be feel-good and engr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 00:23, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post


A movie that will gain more in years to come. The writing, acting, and directing are so pitch-perfect (no pun intended. . .okay, intended) that it seems effortless. Yes, it is a home run. But it's more like a perfect game, with every player rounding home base. My favorite of the year by a long center field hit. (Baseball puns hereby concluded.) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kramer Bozco at 05:53, 04 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Moneyball

i really liked this movie. An inspiring story of perseverance.  ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rshoemake at 04:03, 26 February 2012 | Report This Post


Wonderful Moneyball

Great film. Moving, smart, well acted. Pitt's best performance. Jonah Hill was outstanding. Great baseball flick. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 22:47, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post


Wonderful Moneyball

Great film. Moving, smart, well acted. Pitt's best performance. Jonah Hill was outstanding. Great baseball flick. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 22:47, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1210166/]Moneyballi]"Peo ple who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn't be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs."way of thinking revolutionised American baseball. This is the based on true events story of Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A`s. Because of the low budget of his team he can`t afford the buy star players to enforce the team. So instead of doi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 22:08, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Moneyball

I enjoyed it. Pitt was excellent as was PSH. Jonah Hill was a little out of his depth with the exception of the "Trade Deadline Day" scene. Some wonderful moments and a decent script that clearly has the Sorking magic dust sprinkled over it. Although it did feel that perhaps he was brought in to polish the script rather than co write.... 8/10 ... More

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 18:33, 02 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Moneyball

L: m_er 7/10 Moneyball: It is not earth-shattering or so, but quite an experience. It’s a good sports movie. ‘’Moneyball" is more than just about baseball though, it's about life, it’s beyond baseball. It’s a story about success and life nd baseball ... More

Posted by UTB at 16:42, 02 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Moneyball

7/10 Moneyball: It is not earth-shattering or so, but quite an experience. It’s a good sports movie. ‘’Moneyball" is more than just about baseball though, it's about life, it’s beyond baseball. It’s a story about success and life ... More

Posted by m_er at 13:35, 02 February 2012 | Report This Post


Great Movie

A very well made movie. Pitt and Hill are extraordinary! Sorkin's done a wonderful job with the script, as usual. One of the best movies released last year. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Turd Ferguson at 21:54, 20 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Moneyball

Watched this today. What a great movie, Pitt and Hill were brilliant.  ... More

Posted by galvatron at 17:08, 22 December 2011 | Report This Post


Cars and gold

The film made me want to join a baseball team, that is all. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Friendsknew at 16:47, 01 December 2011 | Report This Post


the finest character study of the year

excellent film - Brad Pitt's character, throughout his Baseball career, has been trying to prove his self worth to himself. his fight against the sytem is a metaphor for his inner battle to attain redemption. wonderfully constructed film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by filmFOCUS at 16:41, 29 November 2011 | Report This Post


loved it

Great performances. Pitt especially is decent. Good moments of humour. Enjoyable stuff. ... More

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Posted by tysmuse at 19:18, 27 November 2011 | Report This Post


Un-decided

I thought, although the performances were good, i really dissagree with everyone who says 'it's not about baseball', strong performaces (jonah hill can do more than look like a shorter, slightly creepy seth rogen?) and a bit of comic relief keep it from getting too complicated, but it was all statistics and scores, and i'm so very not interested in baseball! beautifully shot and wonderfully heartwarming, but it got a bit too bogged down by the sport (obviously that's just the opinion of a couch ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Swedle at 19:17, 27 November 2011 | Report This Post


A bit confusing at the end............

"He’s headed a complicated movie about the science of sport and made what is, for all its lack of action on the diamond, the most uplifting, exciting sports movie since Friday Night Lights" - Surely by the review you gave to Warrior, that was the best movie since Friday Night Lights, considering that was given 5 stars? Excellent review none the less but just confused by that statement ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by umer_ejaz at 16:29, 21 November 2011 | Report This Post


Brilliant!

Saw this in the states a month ago and loved it! Brad Pitt is brilliant, as is Jonah Hill. I real feel good sports film! Highly recommended! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 10:11, 21 November 2011 | Report This Post


Excelsior Olly Richards!

Morning Olly. I've not sat down to watch this film yet, and prior to reading your review it wasn't likely to happen at all, fan of Brad 'when-will-the-masses-recognise-that-he's-more-than-fan ny-fodder' Pitt, though I am. Point is; Great review. I always enjoy your reviews in particular, you're my hero, Olly. Too much? Well, I'm off to continue with my perfectly normal, Olly stalking-free day. So, as the old saying goes, keep up the good work and don't contact the authorities. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Haveityourwaybaybeee at 09:37, 21 November 2011 | Report This Post


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