The Oakland Athletics baseball team are in dire straits, unable to clinch a morale-boosting win and finding it increasingly impossible to compete with the larger, richer teams.
Searching for a remedy, general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) teams up with Yale graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who has had an ingenious idea. After trawling through batting, catching and running statistics, Brand picks out a series of players who have been overlooked by the larger teams but, for one reason or another, he deems have something more to offer.
Going against all received wisdom from decades of baseball knowledge, Beane and Brand put together a team on a shoestring, much to the surprise and nervousness of the Oakland 'A' fans. Can the unlikely duo create a championship-winning side?
Throw away the sporting analogies and baseball terminology (what is a 'pinch hitter' anyway?), for director Bennett Miller has put together a soulful movie that transcends the realm of dingers and home runs. Although Philip Seymour Hoffman, reuniting with Miller for the first time since Capote, is underused, Hill is a revelation as the nerdy ideas man in a straighterthan-usual role, and Pitt anchors the whole thing with a charismatic Oscar-nominated turn.
Based on a true story and stripped from Michael Lewis's book of the same name, this celebration of science and statistics doesn't quite hit it out of the park, but is surprisingly gripping for both sport fans and casual viewers.