No surprise there, since that film's producer, Scott Rudin, and screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, are also on board for this one. (The coscreenwriter is Steven Zaillian.) But the overrated "The Social Network" was about a cultural game changer. "Moneyball," based on the eponymous nonfiction bestseller by Michael Lewis, is about something lesser. Lewis's book is subtitled "The Art of Winning an Unfair Game," and that aptly describes the film. How did a small-market team like the 2002 Oakland A's stay competitive with the lavishly moneyed likes of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox?
The answer was to remake the game. Instead of using seasoned scouts and coaches to seek out promising ballplayers using traditional methods and hunches, Beane had a "better" idea. Utilizing the system of resident spreadsheet nerd and recent Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (a composite character played by Jonah Hill), he single-mindedly went after low-priced, overlooked players with a high on-base plus slugging percentage, or OPS. These are the players who actually score runs.
Director Bennett Miller, whose feature debut was the excellent "Capote," knows that a tangle of flow charts and on-base statistics isn't going to cut it with audiences, even though that tangle is central to Beane's make-over of the game. Miller keeps the wonk factor to a blessed minimum. Some of the film's funniest moments play against the wonkiness, as when Peter, faced with a roomful of leathery, cynical scouts, calmly cites his stats while managing to look both imperious and mortified.