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‘Moneyball’ Reviews: Variety Says Movie Is Original, Compelling

The upcoming movie ‘Moneyball' tells the story of Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland A's who changed his team's season and baseball in general by using statistics and math to evaluate talent. The movie, which is set to release on Sept. 23rd, is based on Beane's true story and certainly has a distinct Bay Area feel about it. The movie, apparently, isn't your typically sports film. According to a review by Variety, the movie is as different from a normal sports movie as Beane's statistics-based approach is from the more traditional baseball talent measures.

Variety praises ‘Moneyball' for its shift away from the big, dramatic sports moments that populate classic sports movies and toward character development. The film focuses on Beane's agony and journey to redeem his failed career as a player, using well-timed flashbacks and an introspective Pitt to accomplish just this.

The film even goes so far as to exclude long baseball scenes in general. As Variety says, "What ‘Moneyball' doesn't do is waste a lot of time on the field. It's nearly all talk, as Beane copes with losing to the New York Yankees in the 2001 playoffs and seeing rich teams poach the A's three most valuable players --Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen."

In fact, Variety pegs one of the best parts about ‘Moneyball' as Pitt's portrayal of a troubled Beane: "Pitt gives a genuinely soul-searching performance. He reaches for junk food when nervous and questions himself in solitary, but his best scenes are those featuring his daughter Casey (Kerris Dorsey)...Pitt reveals that Beane's swagger is mostly for show, and his true nature is far more sensitive than anyone who's seen him cut a player would guess."

That sensitivity and level of character depth is surely not a hallmark of sports films. Ultimately, Variety concludes that the movie is strong because it is different from the typical sports movie. This isn't a movie about heroics (i.e. turning a baseball franchise around in the blink of an eye) or drama (i.e. your typical underdog vs. the world paradigm).

Instead, this movie aims at portraying the personality and life of a former player looking for a second chance at success. It steers us away from the typical occurrences that we've come to associate with Hollywood sports products and towards moments of perseverance, where we witness the journey of Beane and the emotional rollercoaster of his character through the framework of sports.

The movie has gotten good reviews so far, and seems to be a worthwhile watch. Make sure to check out Variety's interview in full. Also take a look at Rotten Tomatoes' profile of the film for more information, where 'Moneyball' banks in with a rating of 86%.