Wednesday, September 21, 2011

REVIEW: Moneyball


Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill


September 23, 2011

Bennett Miller

Columbia Pictures

2 hours 13 minutes



The baseball season is quickly coming to a close, so guess what we get in late September?  Yep that's right: a baseball movie. And not just any baseball movie, it's the true story of Billy Beane's attempt to win a few games for the Oakland Athletics while purchasing players with low statistics.  This movie has been all over the map, including some special showings at the TIFF this past week, scoring great reviews.  It might have been because the screening I went to was late on a Thursday night and I got out a quarter after 10:00 really exhausted, but I wasn't as mesmerized by 'Moneyball' as many others were.  Sure Brad Pitt has the charm and wittiness that every great protagonist needs, but the movie felt very long and I was falling asleep at times, trying to keep myself awake.  I did like the movie overall, I just want to let you know that right now.  It was well acted by lead Pitt, the script was well written, co written by Aaron Sorkin of 'The Social Network' fame, and the story was well executed, blending the right amount of comedy, drama, and heart needed.  I did enjoy this film quite a bit, but I enjoyed the 8 minute long 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' trailer that preceeded the movie even more.  Overall, 'Moneyball' is a good movie, but not a great one.  Baseball fans will love it, as well as any movie buff looking for a smart ass Brad Pitt and (surprise) Jonah Hill for once playing someone who doesn't shed a single f-bomb or drinks excessive alcohol.

Billy Beane, the general manager for the Oakland A's is having the worst of luck lately.  Not only is his team the laughing stock of the MLB, but Billy doesn't get any respect from such rich teams as the New York Yankees.  After another unsucessful attempt at getting good players, Peter Brand answers the prayers that Billy has been giving for quite a while.  Peter brings up an interesting plan that may help get the A's straight to the top: in order to get the best players, you must buy the cheapest players with abilities over looked by the baseball teams.  This plan, known as "Moneyball," is such an intellegant plan that it can either put the Billy, along with the A's right on top, or sink and kill their careers faster than the shot of a bullet.

There will be two words that viewers will remember first upon exiting the auditorium for 'Moneyball,' and these words are well deserved to be remembered.  Brad. Pitt.  You will hear a whole lot of praise for Pitt's performance, and let me tell you that it's highly deserved.  Pitt brings a lot of high energy and sarcasm to his role, which brings in the comedy aspect of the film.  I think that Pitt has a fantastic performance in this movie, but I doubt that it will be nominated for any major awards.  However I wouldn't be surprised if he was nominated for anything.  Another great performance in this movie comes from co-star/funnyman Jonah Hill. 

For the first time since the fantastic Ricky Gervais movie 'The Invention of Lying,' Hill plays a very straight man with no f-bombs coming from his mouth (though there are two in the movie) and no drugs in his possesion at any time.  No fat jokes even, just a man who gives a brilliant idea to Brad Pitt.  Hill gives a very strong performance that is nice to see come from this actor.  Maybe the fact that he is now skinny shows that Hill is doing something good with his life, not relying on fat jokes and potty mouth humor throughout.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is also in this movie, but his role is very small compared to Pitt and Hill.  I know that Hoffman can act great, but that's everything he doesn't do in this movie.  He barely acts, which makes since because his presence lasts about 20 minutes throughout the over 2 hour film.  It would have been nice to see more screen time for Hoffman, even from Hill, who's in about half of the film.  But the audience has to remember (and they'll be happy about this) that this is Brad Pitt's movie, and he is fantastic as Billy Beane.

Do you remember how 'Social Network' was all dialogue and fantastic acting that was wrapped up in a sublime film?  Well this film is only half of that.  Aaron Sorkin, the writer behind the 2010 Academy Award winning movie decided to polish the script up before filming began in July of last year.  If you loved the script for 'The Social Network' as much as I did, you will find 'Moneyball's' script to be just as quirky and witty/funny as the Oscar winning script from last year.  However this script is nothing compared to last year's Aaron Sorkin script.  Brad Pitt may know how to talk the talk and use his charm to win over Jonah Hill and the Oakland A's, but I didn't feel quite as much as a pull by this movie's script as, well, do I need to mention it again?  The dialogue is very well written, just to get back on the postitive note, and the cast knows how to act and work with Sorkin's script very well.  For one of the best written scripts of the year, though not as good as the BEST script of 2010 written by the same guy, 'Moneyball' delivers all the best performances from a solid screenplay, written by one of the best writers of the new decade.  I can't wait to see what Sorkin pulls off next year, if he writes anything next year.

'Moneyball' shows a fantastic performance by Brad Pitt, and a well written screenplay by co-writer Aaron Sorkin, but the rest of the cast isn't used as much as you'd think, and I found myself falling asleep during parts of the film, and the story to be very predictable, even if it's based on reality.  THis may be the first time in movie history where I checked my timer.  I actually checked it TWICE, believe it or not.  The first time was at the 51 minute mark, where the movie was going incredibly fast.  Then the movie got really slow, and I was fading away.  Guess what point of the movie this was at: 1 hour and 35 minutes in!  A 44 minute difference for a 133 minute movie.  It might have been because I had school the next day and I didn't get to bed until 11 that night.  It could have been bewcause the movie didn't start until 8pm when it was supposed to start at 7:30pm. (Actually the reel started up around 7:50, but that only played the eight minute 'Dragon Tattoo' trailer I mentioned before the film) Whatever the reason is, I just wasn't into the movie as much as I wanted it to be. 

I'll tell you what: my dad wants to see this movie anyway, so I'll go take my dad to the movie, see the movie for a second time, and I'll update this post with a better analysis on the movie.  I hope that I missed something when I first saw this movie, because I'd love to enjoy the film much more than I did the first time.  This film will be getting awards buzz very soon, so why not just go check it out.  Moneyball is a good, not great movie with a fantastic performance by Brad Pitt, and a well written Aaron Sorkin screenplay.  What more is there to say?  Oh yeah there is one word that comes to mind, and my dad loves to say this word in a specific way after going to a Phillies game a couple years back: BASEBALL. 


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
(8 minute long trailer!!)

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