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Movie Review: Moneyball

A combination of thoughtful execution, excellent casting, and unexpected excitement allow Moneyball, ostensibly a movie about baseball strategy that even the author of the book of which it’s based claims wouldn’t work on the big screen, a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit lengthy foray into the slow boring of hard boards.Brad Pitt, earning his paycheck by appearing in just about every scene, is Billy Beane, an earnest and dedicated general manager, father, and occasional curmudgeon that in a desperation move decides to change the way baseball is approached.

In a story that would only seem interesting to baseball fanatics, Moneyball becomes more about idealism, dedication, and a triumph of intellect; and it should come as no surprise that Aaron Sorkin had a hand in this. Sorkin, who made a movie about social networking one of the most compelling film in years, and also wrote shows about a sports, American politics, and sketch comedy, that weren’t really about those things at all, employs his usually clever tactics here.

The action baseball scenes are sparse, though realistic and accurate, and much of the film is what goes on before and after the game, in typical Sorkin fashion. There aren’t many walk-and-talks (Sorkin was in fact a co-writer), but the banter between Pitt and Jonah Hill as a slightly timid brain-child Peter Brand, fosters some surprisingly funny moments in an overall charming film.

As far as the baseball goes, the movie is honest, though certainly omits one or two key factors. The sentiment is true, but part of the success of the Oakland Athletics that season was due to great pitching. Tim Hudson is shown in the movie, pitching ineffectively in the game around which the climax of the movie is created, but he and Barry Zito, among others, were significant in the contribution to the A’s great season, and they go unmentioned.

Still, for baseball fans there is plenty to take in. Clubhouses, offices, and dugouts make for fascinating backdrops on conversation, while the most beautiful sports sight on the big screen will always be a major league baseball park.

It is a very welcome sight for the fall season, with great performances, solid directing, and a very well-written script. Like the baseball season itself, the movie drags on a bit too long at times and can certainly be shortened. However just like the baseball season this year, the ending leaves you satisfied, feeling romantic for the game and confident in knowing that you just witnessed something particularly special.

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