'Moneyball': What the Critics Are Saying
Brad Pitt returns to the big screen with a movie based on the true story about manager Billy Beane and the Oakland As, Moneyball. The Bennett Miller-directed feature debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, and with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin fresh off his The Social Network Oscar win (along with co-writer Steven Zaillian), curiosity was high on how the project would be received.
The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt wrote that Pitt and Jonah Hill, an unlikely comedy pair, "are all delights as they struggle to find a working language and then a means to impose their newfound will on the most tradition-minded of soprts." But it's also the supporting players (Philip Seymour Hoffman, especially) that shines through. Unlike The Social Network, "no one remakes the world" in Moneyball, Honeycutt notes, but "someone who doesn't even like the sport may care about Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland Athletics."
The Guardian's Catherine Shoard wasn't as forgiving, giving the film two out of five stars. "Those who enter the cinema unstirred by either the sport or by the joys of stats are unlikely to come out converts," she concludes. The performances weren't received well either, with Shoard saying Pitt "comes across as a bit of a knackered lunk, too vanilla for his struggles to grip in the way as, say, those of Michael Sheen's Brian Clough in The Damned United," the latter of which she favored.
Indiewire's Eric Kohn called the project "a warm and generally agreeable character study about the pratfalls of athletic institutions and the willingness to think outside the box." Pitt, who also served as a producer on the film, comes off like a "sad-eyed dreamer facing impossible odds," and there is barely any footage of baseball games because it revolves around the "obsessive nature of baseball's inner circle of power players." Similar to the quick pacing of The Social Network, he also credited the "fluid pace and ... naturalistic moments."
Moneyball received another positive review from HitFix, who wrote that Pitt's performance as Beane is "excellent," managing to "give a largely internal performance that still communicates volumes." The reviewer also pointed out Hill's work in the movie, saying that the comedian "may have just changed the course of the resrt of his career."