Before I joined the staff of The Scout as a sports reporter, I debated whether I wanted to write about movies or sports. Though I did choose the way of sports, today I get to do both.
A friend and I went to the Morton theater to watch the newest sports film “Moneyball.”
I thought I was in store for a nice popcorn flick or better yet, a sports movie for nerds.
Leaving the theater after the two-hour movie, we were awestruck. Not by the fact that everyone at the theater, including the manager, had left before we had, but by what we had witnessed: a movie about sports that was actually different.
For those tired of sports movies filled with clichés, unbelievable championship runs and Sandra Bullock, this one is a must see.
Starring as Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane, Brad Pitt displayed the highs and lows that sports and life can bring with such ease. I almost forgot how crappy “Benjamin Button” was.
Beane throws around desks, chairs, radios and f-bombs over the failures of his A’s like any fan finds himself doing when frustrated. Even my cool tempered self has thrown an antenna down to the ground after watching my Cowboys fail.
It’s the quiet times that make the movie special, though. As Jonah Hill’s character, Peter Brand, and Billy Beane look over countless statistical analyses of players in order to fill their roster cheaply, many truths of life are discussed. Hill being serious may be a shock to your very core, but it’s hard to screw up as an actor when the script was penned by two Oscar winners.
Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin’s script is such a deft blend of stats, sports, sorrow and spirit, you can understand why both have won Oscars.
Of course, you would need to great writers to make a book about statistical analysis of players into an intriguing film.
For those of you not obsessed with movies like I am, Zaillian wrote “Schindler’s List” and “York” while Sorkin wrote “The Social Network.” Not to force a sports cliché on you, but that’s a Murderers’ Row of script writing.
Now I’m not trying to say “Moneyball” is a meditation on the human condition, or that it’s best that you have to have a Ph.D. in psychology to understand. It is a sports movie after all.
These scenes are just like the scenes that take place with Beane and Brand, they’re toned down, reflective and, in the end, pure cinematic magic. Unlike most sports movies where the scenes are fast paced and flashy displays of great athletic feats enveloped in impossibly loud cheering, this movie has the opposite effect.
The scenes are focused, dark and gut-wrenching. Credit director Bennett Miller for adding some visceral daring in a movie genre that is annoyingly void of it.
Actually, credit everyone involved in making this movie. Too many times, people refuse to try and change something. Putting out a sports movie that’s reflective and analytical is something just as risky as what Billy Beane did putting a team together by using advanced stats.
Movie snobs may ignore it because it’s about sports and sports fans may be disappointed by it not focusing on the field as much, but those happy few who love sports and cinema will find a movie that truly summarizes why people are so romantic about both.