Starring: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell, Bill Paxton
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Written by: Thomas McCarthy
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 2 hr 4 min
So you’ve seen this kind of film before I’m sure. The last-ditch attempt to save a career with a crazy scheme that seems destined to fail. The underdog story where unlikely contenders defy the odds and win the day. Since the dawn of moving pictures, stories like Million Dollar Arm have been assembled for our entertainment, and it won’t be the last. Underdog stories appeal to just about everyone, no matter where you are in the world, and if the story happens to be based on true life events, then all the better.
Million Dollar Arm is based on true life events, and certainly has that gloss of Disney sentimentality about it. This however, was not a problem for me because the story is so strong. The film also gets one crucial element right – it has great characters. Jon Hamm anchors the movie perfectly, and certainly looks the part of the desperate yet all business sports agent. Madhur Mittal and Suraj Sharma are also perfect as the two young kids experiencing culture shock in the US for a chance to play baseball. The film is basically loaded with great characters that you’ll be happy to spend a couple of hours with. My only minor complaint would be with Alan Arkin, who seemed figuratively and literally asleep through most of his screen time.
I liked the different layers to the screenplay by Thomas McCarthy in that it points to the business of baseball, and the agents that represent players. It highlights the cultural differences between the US and India especially when it comes to business and organizing events like the Million Dollar Arm. I also appreciated the amount of time the film spends in India exploring the people, places and textures and it’s easily most visually interesting part of the film.
If you’re a sucker for inspirational true life sports stories (like me), then you should enjoy Million Dollar Arm. It’s not sickeningly sentimental, but it certainly has that Hollywood/Disney glow about it.
The segments in India are easily the most visually interesting parts of the film, so I recommend a matinée showing to appreciate that properly. If you wait to rent, make sure you get the HD version to watch at home.
I loved the parts of the movie shot in India. The energy, color and just how well photographed it was.