MILLION DOLLAR ARM Movie Review – Enjoy The Warm and Fuzzy Feelings
This weekend, it’s man vs. beast at the box office. And while it’s highly unlikely Million Dollar Arm will put up much of a fight in terms of box office, its quality is wholly its own. Starring Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Lake Bell (In a World…) and Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi), it follows a nearly down and out sports agent looking for one last big chance that could help him pay his bills and keep his new company afloat.
Inspired by literally flipping channels, he goes between Cricket and Britain’s Got Talent and comes up with the idea that becomes the Million Dollar Arm competition. He goes to India, finds a few Cricket players that could be taught to pitch baseball style, and signs them to the major leagues, thus potentially bringing in one billion new fans. That’s billion, not million. A stroke of genius like that, if successful, could put him on the sports agency map and help him keep up his payments on his Porshe and nice house in Beverly Hills. And thus begins a journey to find the first Indian athlete in a major US sports league, and of course Jon Hamm’s JB learns a valuable lesson along the way.
While the story and beats follow the expected inspirational-sports-movie notes, it hits them well and effortlessly. Nothing feels forced or out of left field – you become wholly invested in and believe this journey from LA to India to the MLB. The journey to India is eye-opening for JB, not only in seeing these small villages but also in his burgeoning friendship with his tenant Brenda (Lake Bell) via Skype calls. While Lake Bell is charming throughout, I do wish she was given a bit more to do than just be a voice of reason that eggs on the protagonist to change. She’s a plot device more than an actual character at times.
The story is so cute and uplifting that if it weren’t based on a true story, I’d call it schmaltz. And yet, it works thanks to the deft handling by Jon Hamm, the writers, and the directors. And just in case you don’t believe it while you’re watching, stick around for the end credits to see the real-life photos from JB, Dinesh, and Rinku as they lived this inspiring story.
Million Dollar Arm opens in theaters tomorrow, May 16.
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