Hyped as one of the year’s best films and widely praised, Moneyball is very good but slightly over-rated. Much like the actual game of baseball, at its best it gives us impressive displays of talent, gripping competition, and surprising emotional engagement but sometimes it drags on and is just plain sluggish. Moneyball tells the true story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics, a team that did incredible things on a limited budget by putting its trust in a creative general manager (Brad Pitt) and an economics graduate with a knack for thinking outside the box (Jonah Hill). Focusing as much on the world of business strategy (and the age-old dilemma of balancing career and family) as on the sport of baseball, the film benefits greatly from a movie-star performance by Brad Pitt and a terrific turn by Jonah Hill, playing completely against type (he’s normally crass and brash, but here he’s all meekness and nervous energy).
The movie’s greatest asset actually comes in the form of the fast and clever dialogue by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, as well as vibrant cinematography. Moneyball‘s potency is diminished slightly by its lackadaisical pacing (trimming it by 10-15 minutes could have done wonders, as whole scenes have no apparent purpose) and by wasting terrific actors Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt, Mission Impossible III) and Robin Wright (The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump) with underwritten, one-dimensional characters. Still, the excellent performances from the lead actors, the fascinating insight into the world of business and professional sports, and the touching family relationship at its core make Moneyball a film well worth the time for fans of cinematic dramas.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Moneyball is rated PG-13. It has no sexuality, violence, or nudity. A passing reference is made to a baseball player having a wild reputation for visiting strip clubs and casinos. The screenplay is peppered with occasional foul language, however, including two f-words and one crude joke. A Christian player is portrayed as meek, humble, and gracious, if a little over-earnest, but overall it’s a positive portrayal.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Challenges to the status quo are usually met with opposition. Family relationships, including those between parents and children, are the source of some of life’s sweetest joys. People often have undervalued or overlooked talents which, if nurtured, can cultivate success. Being smart and frugal with little money can yield greater rewards than spending great amounts frivolously.