Moneyball totally took me by surprise and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, that’s right. I am declaring a big budget studio feature about baseball starring Brad Pitt a huge, wonderful success. I dare you to tell me you don’t like this movie.
Between Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and the script, this film is rock solid. And what a relief to say that! I don’t need to mention brilliant visuals or alluring starlets. I don’t have to justify recycled excuses for why I enjoyed this film. There aren’t flashy action sequences or dazzling special effects. There is no 3D or IMAX to melt our brains. There are no gimmicks!
This is old style filmmaking at its best - a charismatic pair of leads and a script you invest in without ever thinking twice. It’s intelligent, informative and surprisingly funny. And how could it not be when two of the most brilliant screenwriters of the last three decades collaborated on it? Current Oscar incumbent Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and fellow San Francisco State alumni Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List, American Gangster) not only give their audience a reason to love baseball, they give the audience a reason to love a version of baseball that by definition should be unlovable.
What we have on our hands here is one of the first smart films of 2011. Hill and Pitt are perfect channels for super enjoyable, talk-like-this-with-your-buddies dialogue that rockets along at a great pace and never gets stale. It’s also notably relevant to our modern day world (after all the story is only from 2002). Here, even in the digital era of statistics and new traditions, human emotion is still driving the engine.
I have to also share my astonishment that anyone could make me not only sympathizes with, but totally root for a Major League Baseball team and its financial predicament. The secret is that there is a fascinating message not-so-hidden in the film: today’s superstar athletes ARE way over paid and are taking away from the real power behind the game.
I don’t want to leave out Pitt’s fantastic supporting cast, the film had no weak links. But Moneyball is Pitt’s show and he deserves it richly. Just like his character Billy Beane, Pitt sold out early in his career to the lure of money and fame only to find a balance later through projects that mean something and leave a legacy behind for others to follow. Every scene he is on screen for is wrapped around his presence and there is never a doubt we want to root for Billy Beane – he steals us heart and soul for the whole show.
This is our team, this is a big problem, and if we don’t get through this we’re going to leave this theater feeling worse about life. But I’ll spoil the end right now, you’ll leave higher than when you went in. What a breath of fresh air.