Synopsis: Sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) is tapped out of ideas to keep his sports agency afloat. However, after watching cricket one night with his business partner Ash (Aasif Mandvi), they decide to go to India to try to find two cricket players that they can convert to the first Major League Baseball pitchers.
Review: Disney has had a proven track record with the sports films that are based on a true story. From Secretariat to The Rookie and many others, it doesn’t come to much of a surprise that they’d be the studio behind Million Dollar Arm.
This endeavor starts with J.B. Bernstein losing his biggest potential client, Popo, which means trouble for his sports agency that is nearly bankrupt. When J.B. decides to drink his sorrows away at his bachelor pad with his business partner Ash, he realizes his answer is in India. They decide to find the two best cricket players and turn them into Major League baseball players.
J.B. decides to call the competition the Million Dollar Arm and travels through many cities throughout India with the help of Amit Rohan (Pitobash), a “baseball” coach in India and Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin), an aging sports scout. They soon realize most of these cricket players aren’t good at all, and almost give up their search until they find Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal) and Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma). The two boys are the top two winners and find themselves in the United States to try and make a major league team.
Dinesh and Rinku have a difficult time adjusting to the United States. J.B. doesn’t pay much attention to them, nor gives them the comfort they need to help them adjust to a whole different world. J.B.’s neighbor, Brenda (Lake Bell), helps the boys adjust and slowly straightens J.B. out. He realizes that Dinesh and Rinku are just boys, and that they need more than just the best coaches and rides everywhere.
While not truly a baseball film (but neither was The Blind Side for football or Moneyball for baseball), Million Dollar Arm is a film about personal journeys through the eyes of multiple characters and how different geographical situations really can change everything.
Million Dollar Arm isn’t going to win any awards at the Oscars or Golden Globes, but for a film based on a true story, it looks like they did a lot of things right. I’m sure a few things got changed around to “make it more Hollywood”, but the cast and script were fairly tight. Bill Paxton felt a bit underused, but the time he was in the film, he surely did shine. Sharma, who starred in Life of Pi, chose a nice supporting role for his follow-up film, and did a good job showing some comedic chops as well.
Final Grade: 8.0/10