Million Dollar Arm
Million Dollar Arm
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Cast: Jon Hamm, Pitobash, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Aasif Mandvi, Darshan Jariwala, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Gregory Alan Williams, Allyn Rachel, Tzi Ma, Rey Maualuga, Bar Paly, Jaspaul Sandhu
Synopsis: A sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild language and some suggestive content
8 / 10
- Jon Hamm delivers an excellent performance
- The transition with JB was very well handled, and it never felt rushed
- Alan Arkin and Pitobash work great together, and definitely add a nice touch of comedy relief
- Film moves at a fairly decent pace
- Movie falls into various cliches that we've seen before in million of other sport movies
- Story is very predictable; even if you didn't know this was based on a true story
Sometimes to win, you have to change the game.
"Million Dollar Arm" may not be the best sports biopic that I've ever seen, but it's definitely worth checking out. Based on a true story. A savvy sports agent named JB (Jon Hamm) is down on his luck. Since he quit his job at a prestigious sporting agency, he's been trying to make it on his own; running his own small sporting agency that he's started. Sadly, he doesn't seem to be having much success. Losing out to bigger sporting agencies that can offer clients a million dollar signing bonus; which is unethical, and it's something he can't afford to do.
However, one day he comes upon the idea about maybe developing a young prospect that he can represent might be the best way to go. A prospect that hails from another country that hasn't been featured in any of the four major team sports in America. A prospect who can reign in a new demographic for a team; similar to how Yao Ming brought in more Chinese interest into the NBA. And since he recently saw a Cricket game taking place in India, JB decides that maybe it would be a good idea to develop an Indian Cricket bowler into a baseball pitcher.
Through a series of events, JB manages to pull what little resources he has to organize a competition in India called "The Million Dollar Arm"; with the help of a few wealthy investors of course. The idea is basically they would travel all over India, and they'd have all the native Cricket bowlers try out their pitching arm. Every contestant would have a chance to win some money, and two of the top contestants would have a chance to try out for a Major League Baseball team. However, it seems like bowlers aren't the only ones interested in this contest, as quite a few non Cricket players participate as well.
To make a long story short, JB finds a couple of new prospects, but they have difficulty dealing with the pressure. Along the way, JB is forced to learn that sometimes there's more to life than just business, and how sometimes you have to be willing to show someone how much you care about them in order for them to succeed. If you've seen a lot of underdog sport movies, then you should have a general idea on how this film plays out, as "Million Dollar Arm" basically hits every cliche in the book.
Heck, even the romance between JB and Brenda (Lake Bell) is nothing if not insanely predictable. You have two people living next door to each other because she happens to be renting his pool house from him. His friend mentions how "cute" she is, yet he claims not to be interested. JB dates nothing but supermodels, who we barely even get to know. She dates some hot guy that breaks up with her later on. The two prospects, Dinesh and Rinku, both form a bond with her, as she becomes like their surrogate mother figure; while I guess you could say JB is expected to become like their father figure, and you can pretty much tell what happens from here. It's basically just another love story subplot where you have two characters that claim not to be interested in each other at first, but they somehow fall in love at the end. Don't you just love it when Hollywood stays true to formula like that?
Hell, there's even some cliched Hollywood speech around the end that motivates Rinku and Dinesh, during their last shot at the Majors. Indeed, this movie is riddled with cliches, as you'd have to be an idiot not to see how this film plays out, after watching the first thirty minutes of it. However, does that mean "Million Dollar Arm" is a bad film though?
Not remotely. Sure, I'll be the first to admit that "Million Dollar Arm" does have it's fair share of problems, but it's still enjoyable. Jon Hamm delivers a great performance, as his transition from uptight jerk to being a family friendly kind of guy seems very natural, and it never feels rushed. Plus, the pacing is nicely put together.
Alan Arkin and Pitobash both add a great deal of humor throughout the film. Alan Arkin plays the lazy baseball scout, who's laid back in his old age; while Pitobash plays the young Indian assistant to JB, who comes off as a overly zealous person. When you have these two together in a scene, it's pure comedic gold, as audiences won't be able to help but laugh.
Overall, I wouldn't go out of my way to say that "Million Dollar Arm" is a great movie by any means, but it's very enjoyable for what it is. The story is fairly decent, and if you can look past all the cliches, then you'll find yourself enthralled in a well executed story. Definitely worth seeing in theaters if you haven't already.
Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar Patel Segment on ABC News
Outside the Lines- Rinku and Dinesh
© 2014 Steven Escareno