I love this movie. I’m going to go see it again, and then maybe one more time. It’s a chick flick with no romantic interest. Go figure. That alone makes it unique. It’s the story of David and Goliath, only they are baseball teams. It’s the story of a broken family. It’s a story of dreams unfulfilled. It’s a story about working together. It’s a story about believing you are right when there is no precedent for your ideas. So many stories, so little time—and yet they all unfold in a seemingly unhurried way with no loose ends. No easy task.
First, and I must confess to not following baseball, I had no idea that something big happened in baseball in 2002. I think it should have been bigger news. I can see you shaking your male heads in amazement that I missed it, but something as big as changing the way the game is played should have risen above the sports pages, and I don’t think it did. I remember asking my ex-boyfriend Kenny Newman why he loved baseball so much, and he said, “because it’s a perfect numbers game.”
The screenplay—written by my all-time favorite movie and TV writer, Aaron Sorkin—is the reason Moneyball may be one of the best films of the year. The script is perfect. Every line, every look exchanged between the characters (which is a form of dialogue, isn’t it?) is just right. I have not seen such perfect communication since Silence of the Lambs. I should have known. Thank you once again Aaron, for understanding that words matter, and that the best delivery in the world doesn’t matter if the words are not brilliantly written in the first place. A Few Good Men, The West Wing, and Moneyball: the perfect writer’s trilogy.
Every character in Moneyball was a starring role for me. Jonah Hill (Knocked Up), plays Peter Brand, the Yale Brainiac who puts together the numbers that change the face of baseball. The movie is perfectly cast, perfectly set up, and rich in content. Hill plays Brand with perfect lip quivering and eye contact that pierced my soul. His performance made me wish I had been nicer to Peter Hein, my long-ago boyfriend for five minutes who was just like the Peter in the film—a brilliant, shy person of substance, a keeper. I did a little more research, and it turns out there is no Peter Brand, and the real brilliant Assistant GM was in fact Paul DePodesta, who is a fabulously fit, handsome personage with no resemblance to the Peter Brand I fell in love with for two hours. Oh, well.
Sweet-singing Kerris Dorsey, who plays Pitt’s daughter, has been in twenty-two films and TV shows, and I have never seen her. No matter. She is as talented and mesmerizing as Dakota Fanning. And boy, she can sing!
Philip Seymour Hoffman lives up to his reputation yet again as the naysayer who turns out to be a fool. He plays the role in a subdued, simmering-with-anger sort of way that can’t be challenged. Great work. Everyone is great.
Ok, I know, I know. I haven’t mentioned Brad Pitt. Everyone seems to think Pitt will get an Academy Award nomination for Moneyball. I don’t think so. His beautiful face can’t quite sell us the cut-throat, I-will-follow-my-own-drummer-no-matter-what-anyone-thinks sort of person he needs to be as Billy Beane. He’s not horrible, but he is miscast. Trust me on this. It’s only the genius of the dialogue and the story that allows him to almost get it right. Mark my words: not this time Brad.
You have to appreciate true stories that prove it’s not always about the amount of money spent. Sometimes it’s about other things, and that’s an important lesson—especially in America, where baseball is king.