A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this inspiring, intelligent film based on Michael Lewis' bestselling non-fiction book stars Brad Pitt as a professional baseball manager who tries to reinvent the art of recruiting players. It's an incisive look at the classic game that -- thanks to pretty tame content aside from some swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), social drinking, and references to Las Vegas -- is age-appropriate for older tween sports movie fans and up. Plus, it has a strongly positive message about committing to a course of action and seeing it through no matter what.
What's the story?
Based on the best-selling nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, MONEYBALL tells the story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the Oakland A's general manager and once-promising professional ball player who refashioned baseball by trusting statistical analysis as much as, if not more than, traditional recruitment methods. He makes this bold and controversial move with the help of a twentysomething Yale-educated statistics expert, Peter (Jonah Hill) -- and encounters plenty of loud critics. Even the coach (Philip Seymour Hoffman) isn't on board. But with larger, deeper-pocketed clubs like the Yankees able to poach the biggest talents from the A's and elsewhere, there aren't that many other alternatives for finding untapped, affordable talent. Can Beane swing for the fences?
Is it any good?
Except for a final scene that verges on maudlin (but is admittedly still quite sweet), Moneyball is pretty much a perfect baseball movie. It emulates the sport it centers on in its unexpected rhythms -- taking its time to reveal the plot in some stretches, rapidly picking up the pace and tension, bases loaded-style, in others -- and reminds us why the game is so beloved. There's little gimmickry here, just confident storytelling and a script that ekes out the dramatic arc in Beane's trailblazing approach and turns it into great material.
Pitt is as good as he gets here, and that's very good. Like a star athlete, he knows precisely when to hold back and when to go for it. It's a grand slam of a performance. Ditto Hill, who abandons his stoner persona and turns in a convincing portrayal of an economics major who finds his place in baseball. Moneyball succeeds because it doesn't relegate its biggest moments to the action on the field -- we've seen that before -- but focuses instead on a quiet revolution that remade America's pastime. Who knew statistics could be this cinematically engrossing?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's message. How do you know how far to take an idea or plan that you believe in? Is there a way to know for sure whether an idea is a good one?
What is the movie saying about the world of professional baseball? What are the motivations of the owners? What about the managers and players?
How does the movie portray technology? Do you think statistics are the best way to find talented athletes? Or are there other factors that coaches should consider?
- In theaters: September 23, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: January 10, 2012
- Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright
- Director: Bennett Miller
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and martial arts, Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs
- Run time: 126 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some strong language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.