Directed By: Bennett Miller

Starring: Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, and Casey Bond

Most sports movies capture the thrill of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.  They delve into the joys of winning and the sorrows of losing.  They do nothing more than depict competition and what drives it.  That's your basic sports movie.  Anything beyond that is a bonus.  Given this, I went into Bennett Miller's Moneyball expecting a decent baseball flick and the need for a few brewskies afterward.  Having seen the film, I stand corrected.  Moneyball is one of those rare sports films that's about more than the game being played on the field.  Instead of competition, Miller takes on innovation and the impact it can have on a system or society.  In addition, the movie is pretty damn funny.

Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, a small, broke franchise in Major League Baseball (MLB).  When several of his key players take offers from bigger franchises, Beane is unable to afford the overly paid players he needs to assemble a winning team.  When trying to make a desperate trade with another team, he comes across Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale graduate who studied economics.  Brand believes in picking players using a statistical model that chooses players based on how many runs on average they'll score during a game at minimal cost.  Together, Beane and Brand put together one of the cheapest winning teams in baseball history and piss off a lot of people all over the league in the process.

Brad Pitt has been on a roll this year.  Tree of Life was a mind-blowing film and a unique addition to his filmography.  It's nice to see him in a role where he actually talks though.  His performance as the conflicted Billy Beane has so many layers to it.  He's the divorced dad trying to make time for his daughter, he's the cocky, hilarious GM who is spitting in the face of baseball itself, and he's the groundbreaking innovator who realizes what needs to be done to affect change in the archaic structure under which MLB franchises currently operate.  Pitt is truly at the top of his game here in Moneyball.

Much like Pitt's character Billy Beane, Moneyball itself is layered.  It's far more than just a funny sports flick.  It's about change and the barriers that inhibit it.  Beane and Brand are fundamentally changing the way that franchises throughout the league value players.  That inevitably will have some hiccups, specifically pushback from anyone who stands to lose something from this change.  Miller effectively captures the magnitude of this change with some very subtle, yet powerful filmmaking.

Moneyball is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year and one of the most hilarious.  The duo of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill is definitely an unlikely pairing, but no one can deny that they have some great comedic chemistry on screen.  I literally laughed until I cried at times.  There is absolutely no need to liquor up for this one; it's just that good.  Moneyball wholeheartedly deserves a sober rating.