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September 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Moneyball is coming to the screens at the tail end of the baseball season, as interest in the playoffs mounts. The timing is probably not coincidental, given the fact that much of the film concerns the sensational rise of the cash-poor 2001 Oakland A’s to the division playoffs under the management of Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt. “Moneyball is an exuberant fictionalized look at how Mr. Beane helped transform the team, one of the poorest in baseball, into serious competition for the wealthiest franchises,” writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. Several critics observe that this is more than your come-from-behind-win-at-the-end sports movie. “I walked in knowing what the movie was about, but unprepared for its intelligence and depth,” writes Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. Adds Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal: “After the mostly minor-league productions of recent months, this movie, which was directed by Bennett Miller, renews your belief in the power of movies.” And Lou Lumenick in the New York Post calls it a “baseball movie for people — like me — who don’t like baseball movies.” Ty Burr of the Boston Globe is one of several critics who praise Pitt’s performance as Beane, suggesting it may well be his most effective. “Seriously, for the first time in a movie I feel like there’s somebody inside Brad Pit’s head looking out,” he remarks. But back in the A’s Bay-area territory, Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle bestows one of the few negative reviews on Pitt and the movie. “Someone crammed Major League-style sports clichés into a more nuanced story about baseball and progress — and then tried to fit a Brad Pitt star vehicle inside of that. The result is an interesting but frustrating near-miss,” he writes.