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Brad Pitt stars as Oakland As manager Billy Beane in baseball drama Moneyball, which opens in theaters Friday.
What are critics saying about the movie, which was directed by Bennett Miller and written by Steven Zaillian and The Social Network‘s Aaron Sorkin?
“With Brad Pitt playing Billy and Jonah Hill as a Yale economics grad whose analysis of players helps that small-market team reach the playoffs when everyone else writes them off for dead, Columbia Pictures looks good perhaps not for a home run but certainly a long double or even an exciting scoot around the bases for a head-first triple,” writes The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt.
“The scenes between Pitt and Hill 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 sports. It’s a great comedy act, with Pitt insisting that Hill complete his thoughts or amplify their concepts to the slack-jawed baseball scouts,” he adds.
The Los Angeles Times‘ Kenneth Turan says, “Starring Brad Pitt in top movie star form, it’s a film that’s impressive and surprising.”
He says Beane is “charmingly played by Pitt, the provocative general manager of the Oakland Athletics whose unconventional ideas about what a team with limited resources could do to compete with profligate powerhouses like the New York Yankees continue to infuriate the sport’s traditionalists.”
“Chief among these is Pitt, who does wonders with a role of a good guy in a tough space, a man who combines the confidence and charisma of the former professional athlete Beane is with an unexpected questioning nature. This is low-key star power at its best,” he adds.
But he also credits Philip Seymour Hoffman and Hall for the movie’s success.
“Pitt, of course, does not do it alone,” writes Turan. “Aside from Hoffman, he has an ideal foil in an unexpectedly dramatic Jonah Hill, who makes the perfect odd couple complement to Pitt’s Beane as the awkward, pudgy Peter Brand, a computer geek who studied economics at Yale but eats baseball statistics for breakfast and ends up as Oakland’s assistant general manager.”
In The New York Times, Manohla Dargis writes, “The hungry heart of Moneyball, a movie about baseball in the digital age, is a beautiful hard case named Billy Beane. Coiled yet cool, Billy has the liquid physical grace and bright eyes of a predator. He was built to win. Even his name, with its short syllabic bursts, sounds ready for ESPN exultations. That he’s played by Brad Pitt giving the quintessential Brad Pitt performance just seals the deal.”
Dargis calls Pitt’s performance, “fully inhabited, appealingly barbed,” and adds, “It’s hard to imagine anyone but Mr. Pitt in the role. He’s relaxed yet edgy and sometimes unsettling, as in his testy exchanges, bristling with tamped-down fury, with the A’s manager, Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman, wearing a head of peach fuzz and a scowl). Though [the director] Miller holds onto the romance of baseball that [mentor Bill] James and others helped strip away (this is, after all, a tale of winners and losers), Billy doesn’t really change: he just becomes his perfect self.”
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