2. This is probably not fair. This is a movie specifically designed for an audience that knows little about baseball, and I wonder if those people will even catch all the story problems that seem blatant to me. But I also think a movie needs to have some internal consistency, and it needs to have a logic that is easily followed, or at least progresses in a fashion that doesn't contradict itself every five minutes. The story of "Moneyball" is to show how Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) changed the game of baseball and found success, both professionally and personally, by going about this business differently than everyone else. But I don't think I'm being too baseball-y when I ask: What exactly does he do? I know in real life what he did. I'm talking about in the movie's story. We're told that Beane and his assistant Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) used statistics to objectively analyze players so they could take cold-eyed, dispassionate looks at the quality of their performance. Fine. So then why, when the A's are losing in the film, do they turn it around once Beane starts giving rallying speeches and befriending his players? I'm legitimately asking. What's the philosophy of this film? Why is Beane changing the game? The ultimate takeaway, the only answer this film has, is "Because Brad Pitt is charismatic." If this were a film about lawyers, rather than baseball players, we'd all be talking about the gaping plot holes you could drive a bullpen car through.
3. The movie gets considerable mileage -- one could argue almost all its mileage -- from Pitt's performance, which is so Movie Star High Wattage that it can nearly be overwhelming: Pitt is an actor who has spent so much time and energy trying to tamp down and mask his charm and looks that to see him turn the amp to 11 knocks you over. He's enormously likable and believable, even when his character isn't. His scenes with Hill sizzle -- it's a kick seeing Hill, in a modulated, smart performance, play the straight man to Pitt -- and Philip Seymour Hoffman does some impressive slow-burning as A's manager Art Howe, whose old-school philosophy clearly clashes with Beane's. But then again, that's another part of the problem: The movie doesn't do a good job of explaining precisely what Beane's philosophy is, so we spend the Beane-Howe scenes thinking more about how much fun it is to watch Pitt and Hoffman banter than try to understand what the actual difference is.