I don’t watch many sports comedies because I’m not that much into sports. However, Million Dollar Arm seemed like a well-crafted and chill movie so I decided to check it out. And it turned out to be pretty good. It’s exactly the type of movie you expect to be, a feel-good comedy with a healthy dose of realism. It’s based on a true story of J. B. Bernstein, played by Jon Hamm, a sports agent who stumbled upon something incredible.
Hamm again plays the same guy from Mad Men along with Alan Arkin who’s once more a lovable grumpy old guy. Million Dollar Arm is, of course, also a story about guys who only dreamed of making it big and then saw those dreams become reality. Standard-issue stuff when it comes to these sorts of movies. Sometimes, life is the best screenwriter you can have, you just have to channel that story through good acting and directing.
If you saw another great Disney movie, Saving Mr. Banks, you know exactly what to expect. It would appear that India is a really fertile ground for these inspiring stories only this one is true unlike Slumdog Millionaire or Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I’ll refrain from my usual cynical commentary on why this is happening. And what deeper meaning we can derive from it although I think that you’re already sensing what I’m thinking.
No, Million Dollar Arm is simply too likable for that. However, I must say that they could not steer away from stereotypes that did mess up the atmosphere at times. An atmosphere that was vibrant and exotic since a large part of the movie takes place in India. The rest of it is a blend of fish-out-of-water situations and the usual sports stuff.
Meet JB, an incredibly wealthy sports agent who’s living the life. Fast cars, beautiful women and travel fill up his schedule on a daily bases. Upon learning that his company is starting to financially struggle, he decides to go to India and look for talented guys to play Major League Baseball. And so another chapter in his life begins.
I’m still resisting the urge to just shit on the whole premise of this movie just so you know. If this didn’t really happen, oh boy, would I destroy this movie despite all the positive vibes it’s putting out. All this being said, I have to admit that Million Dollar Arm was a very entertaining movie. I also have to mention Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, and Pitobash who brought an air of authenticity to this otherwise very constrained movie.
The pacing was also excellent, especially when you consider the running time of just under two hours. Finally, I have to give it up to Disney who managed to turn a pretty fucked up story into a heartwarming tale of success.
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer: Tom McCarthy
Cast: Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Aasif Mandvi, Suraj Sharma, Pitobash, Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell
Fun Facts: Bill Paxton plays Tom House, who was a real Major League pitcher and coach. He was actually a consultant for this movie ensuring that they get all the details right.