run time: 124 mins
considered: Biography, Drama, Sport
director: Craig Gillespie
starring: Jon Hamm, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Pitobash, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Aasif Mandvi, Darshan Jariwala, Gregory Alan Williams, Allyn Rachel, Tzi Ma,
movie summary: JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) is a down on his luck sports agent whose company has lost all of its star clients. When the banks come calling to collect their debts, JB must find a way to make money and recruit new clients. One night after a dinner party his business partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) starts to watch a cricket game. After a few beers JB comes up with the idea to go to India and find a cricket player to train as a Major League Baseball pitcher.
JB and Aash get financial backing from Mr. Chang (Tzi Ma), a wealthy Asian who has deep pockets and a love of baseball. He agrees to sponsor a tournament in India called “The Millionaire Dollar Arm” which will have cricket players competing for a chance to come to America and train for the major leagues. When JB arrives in India is he taken aback by the culture, people, and way of life. He busts his ass to get the right people to help him set up the try outs which turn out to be a disaster. No one in India has ever played baseball or even held a baseball, so most of the kids who show up for the contest don’t know how to properly throw the ball. JB’s frustration and desperation grow with each new city not providing him with any talented throwers who can at least get the ball into the strike zone. His scouting agent Ray (Alan Arkin) has done nothing but sleep away the days because no kid has potential, that is until they reach Lucknow, India where they find Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh Kumar Patel (Madhur Mittal). These two young kids can throw in the mid 80s (mph) and can actually get the ball near the strike zone. After that day in Lucknow the competition picks up 14 other potential players for the one day tournament to crown the winner.
Rinku and Dinesh end up winning the tournament and then say good-bye to their villages and families. The pair leave their homes for the first time in their lives when JB brings them to Los Angeles to train. The kids meet with USC Pitching Coach Tom House (Bill Paxton) who is famous across the world for his pitching techniques and his abilities to save players careers with his methods. After the first few days Tom doesn’t think he can help these kids, let alone have them be MLB ready in a year. Rinku and Dinesh try really hard every day to practice and learn the game while JB drops them off at the field then drives away to pursue other clients to save his job. The lack of commitment and attention JB pays to his new prospects begins to wear on them and they stop trying. It’s been hard enough on these two kids who can’t even speak English to leave their homes, travel across the globe, and learn a whole new game. Sadly, the one person they put all their trust in seems to abandon them. JB doesn’t see any of this because he is so preoccupied with other clients and his own life that his neighbour Brenda (Lake Bell) is the one who calls him out on his behaviour. She has been renting the place in the back of JB’s property for years. She sees Rinku and Dinesh all the time at the house so the three of them have become close friends. She knows how they feel and that they are afraid to bring it up to him which shocks JB because he claims to have given everything to them. He ends up having a gut check moment when the number one client he has been chasing dumps him leaving him to relay on the two kids more than ever before.
JB starts to put a lot of effort into the kids and organises a MLB try out in Florida at the annual baseball general managers meeting. In an attempt to get Rinku and Dinesh signed JB manages to get 24 scouts to come out for the try-out. Unfortunately a combination of mistakes and bad decisions leads to the pair trying out in the middle of a mall parking lot instead of a real baseball field. The media and scouts crowd around a small batting cage with a pitching mound made out of wood and artificial turf. There is no rubber for the boys to push-off which messes up their routine and concentration. The end results are not pretty. Rinku and Dinesh throw every pitch away, unable to crack the 80-85 mph mark. The demonstration turns out to be a disaster and JB has let the boys, Aasif, Brenda, Tom, and Mr. Chang down. Mr. Chang decides the program is a success and is willing to sponsor another tournament next year but thinks Rinku and Dinesh are done with no chance to ever make the majors.
Time has run out and everyone with a professional opinion has counted them out, but JB still believes they have a chance. He travels across the south to find a scout, any scout who will be willing to come out to Los Angeles and see the duo pitch at the ball park they are familiar with. Ray puts JB in touch with the scout from the Pittsburgh Pirates who is willing to give them a shot. JB meets with Mr. Chang one more time who does not want any part of the second try out and warns JB if he goes through with it, he will pull the funding for the program next season. JB agrees and organizes one final try out, Aash and his secretary manage to get six other scouts to show up along with Ray and Tom. The pressure is on both Rinku and Dinesh to make one final impression while JB’s career and reputation are on the line if the Rinku and Dinesh can’t pull this off.
my thoughts: I’m sorry to spoil this movie and ending for you, but THIS IS A DISNEY MOVIE therefore you already know what happens. Also if you have the internet (thankfully you do because I don’t know how else you could be reading this) you could just google Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar Patel to find out how their careers went and save yourself $13.25.
Now as far as the movie Million Dollar Arm goes it is surprisingly funny, heart warming, heart breaking, and cliché. It features a cast of big names and no names, they interact perfectly on the screen despite a language barrier. Jon Hamm is the perfect power-hungry sports agent who will do anything to keep his nice house, fast cars, beautiful ladies, and hefty pay cheque. He flows with JB through his ups and downs realizing that he is idiot and jerk far more than he is a nice guy. It takes the beautiful looks and charm of his neighbor Lake Bell to finally get him to see the big picture in life and change his ways. Hamm is surrounded by limited roles from Paxton who is a smart, tell it like is pitching coach who knows a prospect when he sees it. Alan Arkin is always a charm with his sarcastic dry humor that comes out of nowhere to make you burst out laughing. I sometimes wish he would get more screen time in movies but his limited roles allow us to appreciate his humour in doses.
Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal are Hollywood unknowns (well at least to me that is) who excel given their roles. They don’t speak any English and honestly don’t look like they have a spec of athletic ability but manage to throw a baseball at the speeds required to play Major League Baseball. Their translator Amit (Pitobash) is hilarious when he tries to describe what JB, Tom, Ray, or Brenda have to say in the tone in which they say things. The three of them together is a sight to see because they try their very best to blend into the American culture but always end saying the wrong thing or doing something crazy.
Million Dollar Arm will be a great movie to take the kids out to because the theme of the movie will show them to never stop dreaming, never give up, and that even unrealistic dreams can come true. For adults this Disney movies doesn’t present anything else we haven’t seen in any of their other sports movies. Just sit back, eat some popcorn, have a few laughs, and be prepared for the ending you knew was coming.
my star rating: 5 out 10
imdb.com: 7.7 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 59% out 100%