This week Philip Seymour Hoffman features in two new American sports movies, one about their most venerable – if not impenetrable – pastime of baseball and the other on the modern-day equivalent of bear-baiting, the presidential primaries. In Moneyball, Hoffman plays Art, team manager of the Oakland Athletics, left behind when his boss – Brad Pitt – decides to throw away decades of baseball tradition and use sophisticated statistical analysis and a schlubby Yale economics graduate (Jonah Hill) to pick cheap but effective players.
Hoffman steals every scene he is in but disappears from the story too early. Having said that, Pitt and Hill do great work underplaying recognisably real people and all are well-supported by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin’s script which has scene after scene of great moments, even if some of them lead nowhere (like poor Art’s arc). Moneyball might start out a sports movie but it’s actually a business textbook. If the place you work at clings to received wisdom, experience and intuition over “facts” then organise an outing to Moneyball as fast as you can.