Published on October 13th, 2011 | by Jordan Petersen0
Summary: There are plenty of thrilling moments, but baseball is a thoughtful sport and this is a quiet film. Rest assured, Moneyball is better for it.
Aaron Sorkin is known for his avalanches of brilliant dialogue. No one in the real world speaks with as much easy, intellectual zest and passion as do even the dumbest of his characters. As Disney is to our romantic expectations, so Sorkin is to our idea of eloquence.
But with Moneyball, he tried something new: restraint. Don’t get me wrong, I love Aaron Sorkin’s films because of the dazzling speeches and impossibly clever one-liners. I’ve come to expect his characters to be totally irresistible. But baseball players aren’t known for their much speaking, as it were. In fact, a good definition of stoicism might include an example or two from that profession. Moneyball was Sorkin holding Sorkin back. What emerged was strikingly concise, perfect dialogue — and I guess no one should be surprised.
I’ve never been much for baseball, but that didn’t matter. The genius of good filmmaking is that it enables a broad audience to become invested in an esoteric subject. So, for a little over two hours, I cared very much about baseball. Perhaps more importantly, many people will be able to identify with the theme of changing an unchangeable system. This is an underdog story that cares less about the team than it does the sport. The result is fresh and a little startling.
Brad Pitt knocks another one out of the park (pun intended) but, again, this is no surprise. Anyone who still believes Pitt is little more than a pretty face has missed all of his best work. He’s a man who knows how to say a whole lot without a lot of words. He also has what I can only describe as unique emotive timing — the way he’ll freeze an expression and move through an entire emotional arc with it.
Jonah Hill is also in his element here as the quiet, passionate, smarter-than-he-realizes sidekick. He and Brad have great chemistry on screen, though that could be a consequence of Pitt’s ability to pull almost anyone into his gravity well.
The film may be too slow for an adrenaline-craved audience, but the pace fits the story. Baseball is a thoughtful sport, and this is a quiet film. There are plenty of thrilling moments, but this isn’t a football movie, there are no chase scenes and the inevitable, bombastic explosion of victory that closes out almost every sports movie ever seems to have gone missing from this one. Rest assured, Moneyball is better for it. ♦ ♦ ♦