Starring: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi and Alan Arkin
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Running time: 2 hours 4 mins
Walt Disney Pictures
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars
In 2008, sports agent J.B. Bernstein, struggling to keep his firm afloat, devised an idea that, he proposed, would bring “a billion, with a ‘B’” fans to the game of baseball. Inspired by watching a few games of cricket, Bernstein (Hamm) proposes a competition known as “Million Dollar Arm.” To those who participate, the two that can throw a baseball the fastest wins a chance to come to America and be signed by major league scouts. Of course, things aren’t as easy as they sound.
Based on a true story, “Million Dollar Arm” is an uplifting and inspirational tale that invites the audience to put themselves in the culture of another person. When Rinku (Suraj Sharma, the young man from “Life of Pi) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal from “Slum Dog Millionaire”) impress J.B. enough to warrant a trip to the states, the two must adapt to an entirely new way of life.
First all, it’s so nice to see Jon Hamm on the big screen. I’ve enjoyed his work for a couple of years and he’s never disappointed. Here he reveals the smooth talking J.B. to be much more than the slick hustler others think him to be. The two young actors who portray the “winners” are equally good. Lake Bell has a nice turn as J.B.’s rental tenant. But the prize here goes to Indian actor Pitobash. As the boy’s interpreter and all around baseball guru, he gives a portrayal the glows with enthusiasm. As the boys learn the game, fueled by Power Bars and pizza, their culture is almost lost. The Indian actors are well cast and the audience is made to feel what they feel. Only a short period where the film becomes “Jerry McGuire” slows the story down. That and the fact that the boys always seem to be throwing from the “stretch.” If they went into the windup they’d add a few MPH to their velocity. Just saying.