I predict Moneyball will be one of those movies that will receive a lot of awards nominations, but not win anything. It just has that feel to it. It never tries too hard and dips into Oscar bait territory, but it also falls short of being something truly special. With Aaron Sorkin writing (some of?) it, it most certainly had touches of a Social Network vibe, but this will hardly have as lasting legacy as the Facebook movie (I assume) will have. Moneyball is an entertaining movie, and has a good message. And frankly, that’s all it really needs.
From someone who does not care at ALL about baseball, Moneyball managed to not only hold my attention, but keep me riveted. And I think it probably benefited from the fact that I know nothing of baseball history, and didn’t know how it was going to end. I couldn’t even tell you who won the MLB championship last year, that’s how little I care for the sport. But this movie isn’t so much about the actually enduring a boring game of baseball, but more the behind the scenes action of building a sports team, which always interests me. This could have been about the statistical building of a soccer team and it would still be pretty interesting. In addition to that, it also touches the romanticism of baseball, and the mystique of the sport. That’s how I can enjoy baseball movies, but not an actual baseball game. There is some sort of magic surrounding the game that would make me enjoy any “history of baseball” documentary, yet I would fall asleep during an actual baseball game.
In terms of the actual baseball action, Moneyball plays more like an ESPN highlight reel than it does the long, slow pacing of an actual game. But even more than that, it plays as a character study of Billy Beane. It’s very interesting how they played into his history to show how it shapes his current situation. Beane is kind of unlikable, but at the same time, you understand why. He’s sort of a guy with his back against the wall his whole movie, and he has to stand his ground. It was nice that they included his daughter into the movie, as it made him more human.
Brad Pitt does a great job playing Beane, as expected. The dude is a natural. I think there were a few moments of Aldo the Apache squinting and smooth talking, but Pitt plays the whole movie pretty cool. Jonah Hill is more than adequate as Brand, an economic expert who teaches Beane how to build a team with statistics instead of traditional scouting. The best scenes in the movie, in my opinion, are the one just involving Pitt and Hill changing the game of baseball while bonding. And Philip Seymore Hoffman is vastly underused as the disgruntled manager of the team on the last year of his contract.
The movie flies at a great pace, and that’s probably just because it sucks you in so well. I take it if you don’t care at all about sports, it might be more difficult to be engaged by the film. But as a sports fan, and not a baseball fan, I assure you the film is still good. It took a few interesting approaches to the cinematography and the editing, but nothing crazy. It’s not as standardly constructed as, say, the Blind Side, but not as brilliantly constructed as the Social Network. I don’t see a whole lot of replay value here. Much like the message of the film, Moneyball’s legacy will be that of a nice achievement for sports movies, but not a champion. If you’re looking for a movie to see in theaters right now, I’d without a doubt recommend Moneyball. That is, if you haven’t seen Drive already.
8 out of 10