moneyball_.jpg
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill join forces in Moneyball.
The Dinner: Crispy calamari and cranberry mojitos at Palomino in Bellevue.

The Movie: Moneyball at Lincoln

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Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill Would Appreciate the Value of Palomino's Happy Hour

moneyball_.jpg
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill join forces in Moneyball.
The Dinner: Crispy calamari and cranberry mojitos at Palomino in Bellevue.

The Movie: Moneyball at Lincoln Square Cinemas

The Screenplate: A great sports movie is one that even the viewer with an aversion to sports can enjoy. It is more about the people than it is the game they play. Moneyball is one of those movies. Yes, it is about baseball. But the characters and their struggles are compelling enough that you don't have to know where first base is to be interested in it.

Based on the life of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, played by Bratt Pitt, the movie opens at the end of the team's 2001 season. They've lost three star players and have squat to spend on new ones that will make them competitive. Beane gives up almost all hope until he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a recent Yale economics graduate who uses cold hard statistics to assess a baseball player's value, rather than considering their star quality or observing their actions. After Brand hesitantly admits to Beane, who had a brief and disappointing career as a professional ball players, that his calculations indicate he would have been better off going to college, Beane hires him as an assistant.

Using Brand's calculations, Beane compiles a team that is cheap to put together, but, if the numbers hold true, has more potential than that of bigger teams in the league. Baseball's traditionalists, including Athletics' manager Art Howe (Phillip Seymore Hoffman) are outraged, and refuse to take Beane seriously. Midseason however, the team starts to win. A lot. In fact, they go on to rack up 20 consecutive wins, proving that Brand and Beane could be onto something big that will forever change the face of baseball.

But with all due respect to Brad Pitt, it is Jonah Hill that makes this movie so entertaining for both baseball fans and baseball non-fans alike. Nowhere is the fat kid from Superbad who wanted desperately to get laid. Instead, Hill plays a painfully awkward nerd who knows everything about baseball but has likely never caught a ball in his life. Most impressive is that in the role of Brand, Hill doesn't have a single line that is actually funny, yet he provides the most comic relief. He understands as an actor that understatement sometimes works better, and that oftentimes, the funniest person is one that has no clue that he is funny.

Palomino's happy hour menu is comparable to the Athletics' roster. It lacks the big players - options like almond crusted scallops and filet mignon are available only on the dinner menu. But its $4 cocktails and $8 and under appetizers like calamari can also be relied on and deliver a strong performance. Given that Beane uses Brand's system to bring the most undervalued players to his team, he would surely understand and appreciate Palomino's happy hour, which is all about getting the most bang for your buck.

 
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