Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Video review: "Moneyball"
I truly believe Brad Pitt gave the performance of his career in "Moneyball," far outpacing his overrated work in the pedantic "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
Playing Billy Beane, the general manager of the dirt-poor Oakland A's baseball club, Pitt shows layers and nuance that have been missing in his previous straightforward acting turns.
Billy is outwardly brash, even cocky in the face he presents to the his organization, the media and even his family. He has to, when he's trying to beat teams that can spend three times as much on player salaries. Inside, he's a nervous wreck who's convinced he's cursed.
With the help of a socially awkward young computer genius, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Billy institutes the then-radical concept of sabermetrics. Essentially, this means jettisoning tried-and-true methods for evaluating players and instead relying on complex mathematical algorithms to determine the best team to be had at the lowest price.
Soon Billy and his apprentice have assembled a cast of players who are over the hill, injured or playing out of position -- what Peter dubs "an island of misfit toys." After some initial stumbles, they start racking up W's.
Director Bennett Miller and screenwriters Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian succeeded in making a baseball movie with very little baseball, where the real action happens not on the diamond but in the executive offices.
Video extras are a solid base hit, but they failed to put some mustard on the offerings.
At least the basic DVD edition has a few nice features -- it's so common nowadays to find all the good stuff saved for the Blu-ray. The "Moneyball" DVD comes with a making-of documentary, a feature on the real-life Billy Beane, blooper real with Pitt and Hill, and a number of deleted scenes.
The Blu-ray version adds a featurette on selecting the movie's cast and crew and another about adapting a non-fiction sports book into a feature film. There's also a preview for the 2012 season of the "MLB" video game series.
Movie: 3.5 stars out of four
Extras: 2.5 stars out of four