Baseball was always so embarrassing to play in grade school. Even though they say it’s a team sport, I always found myself alone striking out or alone in the outfield failing to catch the ball. The only time the team part of it appeared was when they yelled at me for letting my guy on third base run home. It always felt like me against both teams.
In MONEYBALL, Brad Pitt’s character challenges the traditions of how baseball is played, and gets yelled at an awful lot. Based on actual events that took place in the distant past of 2001, it tells the story of Oakland A’s manager Billy Bean; a man fed up with losing. He begins to suspect the reason for this is because his team is in a lower price bracket than huge franchises like the New York Yankees. So he partners with Peter Brand, a young consultant who majored in economics, and goes about building his A’s team based on stats and percentages rather than the traditional way of throwing names into the goblet of fire.
This movie has no explosions or car chases. Even though things get pretty sticky for Billy, there is no murder conspiracies or even any arm wrestling. But there is a lot of tension, a lot of humor, and a lot of Brad Pitt.
Watching Brad these days is like catching up with an old friend; an old friend who looks like Brad Pitt. He brings his ‘A’ game (nailed it!) to this role and reminds us why he is a mega movie star. And it’s not just because his face is like a golden unicorn shooting bacon from its’ eyes. The entire world of baseball is against him, and I was rooting for Billy Bean every step of the way. Maybe it was because his name sounds like a comic book character. I don’t know.
The heart of the film is really about the relationship with his daughter, who he only gets to see half the time because of his divorce. There’s a painfully awkward and brilliant scene where Billy goes to pick his daughter up, discovers she’s not home yet, and is forced to wait with his ex and her new man. In that moment, the silence is louder than any of the words.
Jonah Hill is the biggest surprise in Moneyball, delivering a down to earth performance that’s still filled with subdued humor. Like Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Steve Carrel, Jonah might set off to show more than a comedian.
The real star of the film is its’ writers. More than Pitt or Hill, Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian make this movie compelling and entertaining. The conversations sound natural and organic and also gluten free. The dialogue feels smooth as lotion and hits like a freight train. It’s poetry.
I never imagined I would like this flic as much as I did. A movie about baseball and mathematical numbers that doesn’t star Bruce Willis? No thanks. But Moneyball is a testament to great writing, stellar performances, and an inspirational story about a man against the world.
Makes me want to play some baseball. No, that’s actually a lie.