The Trouble with Quibbles: Moneyball

If you’ve been paying attention, then you know that we here at Shooting the Script have been anxiously awaiting Moneyball. The film, based on the book of the same name, tells the true story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and his attempt to put together a winning baseball club by the numbers… literally. With the help of Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Beane sets out to change the game of baseball, using statistics instead of scouts to draft his players.

BP: So, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Bennett Miller’s Capote, but I was supremely impressed by Moneyball.

AS: “Supremely impressed,” really?

BP: Umm, I really loved it. Like a lot, especially compared to his previous film.

AS: Right, I gathered. I liked Capote. And I liked Moneyball a little bit more, but I wasn’t “supremely impressed.” In fact, I was a little disappointed.

BP: How so?

AS: All that math, not enough baseball. I would have liked a bit more baseball and bit less of the Statistics 101 power point presentation.

BP: Well, I didn’t think there were too many statistics. I mean they went kind of light on it compared to some shit that I don’t understand. I mean, I wasn’t lost. I understood the stats as well as anyone else could. As for more baseball, I thought that was one of the film’s strengths.

AS: What!?!

BP: It didn’t get to baseball scenes until like an hour and a half into the movie. They could have had more, but that wasn’t what the movie was about. Instead they made it more personal. They could easily have baseball wall to wall and exploit it to tug the heartstrings more than necessary–cough*Blind Side*cough–but they didn’t and I liked that.

AS: Never saw Blind Side.

BP: It’s terrible, don’t! Look, I like baseball, and yeah baseball scenes in movies can be fun, funny, or emotional, but this movie was doing something different and I loved it for it.

AS: I did not love it for that. And what made me love it less was when it actually took the time to stop and say, “How can you not romanticize baseball?”

BP: What was wrong with that? I thought that was a nice way of saying, “Look, this isn’t the only truth, but here was one way of looking at it”

AS: It felt tacked on, like they realized they didn’t have enough baseball so they had to squeeze something poignant in. Don’t get me wrong, I liked those moments… I just wanted more.

BP: See, I thought all the stuff after the streak was, at first, seemingly tacked on, but by the end you realize what they were trying to say is it wasn’t about numbers, or stats, or wins, but about deciding your own fate. So, I liked how that was handled thematically… without baseball stuff that would have muddied it a bit. But yeah, the baseball action was awesome. Very authentic. Well, what else did you no like?

AS: It wasn’t that I didn’t like it… I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. I was expecting more. It was slow. And there wasn’t enough baseball.

BP: Balderdash!

AS: But Pitt and Hill were great.

BP: Yes, let us talk about the awesome things, which there were many. First and foremost: Brad Pitt. He is fantastic in this movie

AS: Yeah, he owns this role.

BP: Sadly, people might not realize how good he is because it seems so effortless. The part is full of charm and smarts, so I think the soul of the role will be forgotten. Like, he’s not employing an accent or anything showy, so you might not catch what an awesome job he’s doing.

AS: It’s a very subtle performance, a lot going on in his eyes. The character is very aware of the politics of it all.

BP: Right! His eyes… which is how the movie bookends, right? With close up of Pitt’s eyes?

AS: Yup. Which I did think was perfect. It’s all about seeing the game for what it is, for what’s really there.

BP: He’s still heartbroken, but for different reasons. I think the poster tag is apt “What are you really worth?” And yes… Hill is great too. I loved the trade deadline scene.

AS: Soooooooooo good. That felt very Aaron Sorkin. If only they’d been walking around the offices during.

BP: Don’t short-change Zaillian, Sorkin did a touch up on his script and I think both their contributions shine through.

AS: Uh… I didn’t. I said that scene felt very Sorkin, that one scene.

BP: Okay, just making sure. The script, the dialogue… all aces. Funny, smart, poignant. Pfister’s work was great too… the whole picture, very subtle, but very precise, like a picture from the 70s.

AS: Maybe a little All the President’s Men… some Gordon Willis-esque action?

BP: I can see that. I just don’t have a bad thing to say about this movie. It had me laughing, it had me by the gut when it went for it, and it tickled my brain as well. I didn’t even hate the stuff with his daughter, like a man with no heart should. Heck, it even had a Spike Jonze cameo!

AS: Yeah… I didn’t need that Spike Jonze scene.

BP: For the little that you get from his personal life, I thought it was fine. Oh yeah, I fucking loved the flashback scenes. Without those scenes I think an entire awesome layer of the film is lost.

AS: That I can agree with. And I liked the way it played out it segments, not all at once.

BP: YES! I think having seen the Blind Side helps. I was sitting there seeing all the ways that film pissed me off and how this film was doing things right.

AS: For a movie you hate so much, you mention The Blind Side an awful lot.

BP: Seriously though, like the daughter stuff would have been the whole movie if The Blind Side director was making it. It would have dragged all of that shit out to no end.

AS: Well, I’m glad that was not the case. I liked the stuff with his daughter that is there. I just didn’t need the scene with Robin Wright and Spike Jonze, and I think that would have made her phone call even more poignant.

BP: I Loved it, I Loved Pitt… I think it is a great movie. Grade: A

AS: Idunno why my expectations were so high, but they were. So, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Brad Pitt & Jonah Hill are both great, would have liked to see a little bit more with Philip Seymour Hoffman. I feel like we didn’t really get a full character arc with him. And I would have liked to see a bit more baseball. Still, it’s a great movie. Grade: B+

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4 responses to “The Trouble with Quibbles: Moneyball

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