The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie, as opposed to the upcoming podcast episode, which will contain spoilers and an in-depth discussion of this movie
The best sports movies are really character dramas (or comedies): Rocky, Million Dollar Baby, and Raging Bull for boxing; Field of Dreams, The Natural, and Major League for baseball; Big Fan, Invincible, Brian’s Song, and Rudy for football; and Hoosiers and Hoop Dreams for basketball (there really aren’t many good basketball movies). Moneyball goes even further than these movies by giving the actual playing of baseball almost zero screen time. However, I didn’t come away thinking “I wish there had been more baseball.” Moneyball is a movie about business more than sports. It is about challenging a system with new ways of thinking and how a small group of people pioneered a new way of building a baseball team.
Moneyball does a lot with silences and pauses, making each word feel important. It is also slow, but it never feels sluggish. Like The Social Network, also written by Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball was co-written by Steven Zaillian, writer of American Gangster and Schindler’s List), Moneyball is all about the words more than the actions. That is where the similarities end, however, because Moneyball features fewer motor-mouths and more contemplators. Sometimes there is too much contemplating, but that is my only complaint.
Last but not least, Moneyball is hilarious! Please don’t go in thinking that it is funny because Jonah Hill is Brad Pitt’s costar; this is not a buddy comedy. In fact, everybody plays their character as straight as an arrow. Conversations are funny. Situations are funny. There are no jokes. Moneyball earns its laughs because of great writing and great characters.