MILLION DOLLAR ARM
*** (out of 5)
May 16, 2014
Jon Hamm as JB
Madhur Mittal as DINESH
Suraj Sharma as RINKU
Lake Bell as BRENDA
Aasif Mandvi as AASH
Alan Arkin as RAY
Bill Paxton as TOM HOUSE
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
While Walt Disney films are mostly known for family entertainment in the form of animated movies, they also have a rich history in other genres. One of the most popular types of films that are consistently released by the Mouse House are inspirational sports movies – from “Remember the Titans” to “Miracle,” spanning all of the sports out there.
“Million Dollar Arm” fits squarely into that category, featuring an uplifting true story about unlikely heroes chasing their dream.
The story follows a struggling sports agent named JB (Jon Hamm) who gets the brilliant idea to travel to India and start a contest to find new baseball stars. His goal is to find the first Indian player for Major League Baseball using the skills of cricket players. This would open up the entire country to the sport and tapped a previously unexploited market of both players and fans.
JB dubs his contest “Million Dollar Arm” and finds a couple individuals who have what it takes to at least try out for the big leagues. Of course, when they come to America, we see a lot of culture clashing as the kids try to acclimate to the American way of life and the pressure of a major league try-out.
“Million Dollar Arm” serves as obvious counter-programming to “Godzilla,” which hits the screens on the same opening weekend. While this isn’t as strong of a candidate as the standard romantic comedy, it can offer a family-friendly alternative to people (and more importantly the kids) who might otherwise be bothered by a film with too many scary and violent elements.
Ultimately, “Million Dollar Arm” is a perfectly charming movie. It’s not going to win any awards, and as far as inspirational sports movies go, it’s pretty standard and predictable. That isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. Sure, there are no huge surprises in the plot, but it’s a friendly enough piece that makes the trip to the movies comfortable and pleasant.
The cast works well with Jon Hamm serving as the host throughout the story. It’s nice to see this guy get some play outside of “Mad Men,” even if his character starts off as a slightly less odious version of Don Draper. Still, he shows that he can carry a film, and supported by actors like Alan Arkin and Bill Paxton, as well as a love interest with Lake Bell (who also needs greater exposure for her talents), it’s a friendly roster that is enjoyable to watch.
Of course, the would-be baseball players are brought to life by Madhur Mittal and Suraj Sharma, both of whom play second fiddle to the rest of the cast but provide the inspirational hook to the story. Sure, there are probably a few too many stereotypes throughout the film – both on the Indian and the American sides – but they do ultimately serve the purpose of the story’s inspirational method.
It’s a bit different from the traditional Disney sports movies (or those from other studios, like last year’s “42,” which had much of the drama happening on the field) because very little actually takes place during the play of the game. However, it works for what it is intended to deliver.
It may not be the most memorable film out there, but “Million Dollar Arm” is a fine film that the whole family can enjoy.