Baseball, as a sport, is so accessible and yet so rich in malleable complexity that it's easy to imagine it having been created by a Harvard dropout and called Faceball. Both the game's accessibility and complexity are on display in Bennett Miller's excellent film Moneyball. The film is based on the 2003 book by Michael Lewis, which explored a new model used by the financially disadvantage Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane to hire and field a winning team. Because the film is so layered, I chose to view it as not only an exegesis of America's favorite pastime but as a treatment of our seemingly chronic inability to let go of the familiar. Brad Pitt as Beane and Jonah Hill as Beane's Yale-educated numbers cruncher / new world visionary are truly splendid and their scenes together are finely crafted, thanks to scriptwriters Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian. One particularly terrific scene has Pitt and Hill juggling player trades so hilariously and adroitly I was reminded of the work of Hope and Crosby, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis. Lovers of baseball might not love this film, but as a motion picture, Moneyball hits a homerun ... and is blessedly free of sports cliches.


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