I am a huge baseball fan, and a pretty big stats geek, so I read the book MONEYBALL when it came out with great interest. It's a great non-fiction book about the 2002 Oakland A's and their fantastic run, thanks mostly to a new interpretation of selecting players based on some fundamental changes in statistics. Those stats had been proposed much earlier by Bill James, but no one took him seriously because he was not a player. The book is really a fantastic read, but I had no idea how they would make it into a movie. It had failure written all over it. Baseball movies almost always tank. And to make it even less interesting, it's about baseball statistics.
For the most part, some good writing manages to fix all of those problems with very smart characters and dialog. I think it also helps that with THE SOCIAL NETWORK, geeks are pretty much box office heroes now.
All of the acting is excellent. Brad Pitt is surprisingly believable as Billy Beene, and most of the ballplayers have at least a passing resemblance to their real-world counterpart. Perhaps the best performance comes from Christ Pratt as Scott Hatteberg.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of the film is the ending.
It's hard to make a sports movie (or a sports season) where the team you are rooting for loses the last game of the season. But they did a good job making the final act exciting. My real problem comes after that, when they insist on going into the fact that Beene turns down a $12M contract to become Boston's general manager, rather than focussing on the fact that Beene had found the perfect place to be, where he could spend time with his daughter. Sometimes money isn't the only thing, even when it's in the title of the movie.