Movie Review: Moneyball (2011) Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman Vies with Lion King 3D for Top Spot, Gets Mauled

Hudson Valley locals lent their talents to Moneyball; though this year’s baseball flick hits a home run with critics, it’s only second best at the box office



There are a lot reasons to check out Moneyball: It stars Brad Pitt is at his most Robert Redford-y; Jonah Hill does the hangdog-apprentice thing pretty well; and, of course, if you’re interested in baseball — or the even more exciting game of baseball statistics — there’s no other movie out right now with more baseball (statistics) in it.

Though the players in the film may be of the Left Coast, the movie comes from the home team: It was directed by Mamaroneck High School alum Bennett Miller (Capote), and it features Philip Seymour Hoffman (who also starred in Capote). Rumor has it Miller and Hoffman met as youngsters attending a camp for theater geeks in Saratoga Springs. (Dan Futterman, another MHS alum and the third leg of the Saratoga-arts-camp Capote triumvirate, is missing from the Moneyball roster. He’s been off writing episodes of In Treatment.)

But those aren’t the only locals involved with Moneyball. Aaron Sorkin, a Scarsdale resident who won the Oscar for writing The Social Network, did a polish on the script. (The screenplay is also credited to Steven Zaillian, who worked on it when Steven Soderburgh was attached to direct — and they both worked off the book by Michael Lewis.)

bennett miller and philip seymour hoffman

So, how‘d our local boys do?

Unfortunately, Moneyball didn’t take the No. 1 spot at the box office — that went to the second weekend of Disney’s re-release of The Lion King in 3D. (To me, this is remarkable: Disney has been No. 1 for two weeks with a movie that’s 17 years old in a format I thought people were tired of.) But Moneyball was No. 2, and it made about $20.6 million dollars.

Even better: Critics seem to like it. It has a score of 87/100 on Metacritic.com and 94/100 on RottenTomatoes.com. Here’s what some of the critics have to say:

“For me, the only thing duller than watching baseball is listening to fantasy-baseball freaks drone on about stats... my bad. Moneyball is one of the best and most viscerally exciting films of the year. Yes, director Bennett Miller dials down the on-field action and goes stats to the max. But he laces his investigative fervor with emotional punch. Moneyball is a baseball movie like The Social Network is a Facebook movie, meaning it isn’t. Both are about how we play the game of our lives, and the excuses we make in the name of winning.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“It’s a story that holds up beautifully in the re-telling, but the best thing about Moneyball is the human element. Billy Beane is not soft-pedaled into a deity, and Brad Pitt takes impeccable precautions not to underplay his abrasive personality.” —Rex Reed, The New York Observer

“Baseball fans know this story, but Miller puts it all in fascinating context. This is a thinking person’s baseball movie, a more complex version of the inspirational sports story.’ —Claudia Puig, USA Today

Did you see Moneyball, or did you opt for The Lion King? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

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Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY


Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.

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