Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
Sports Agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds himself in desperate need of a can’t miss moneymaker after he fails to land a high-profile football player, and finds his agency on the cusp of bankruptcy. He is struck with inspiration as he is flipping back and forth between a talent competition and an Indian cricket match. When he pitches his idea for Million Dollar Arm, a talent search to find baseball prospects in India, a wealthy investor decides to fund the venture with one caveat: the prospects must be ready for a Major League tryout in one year. It appears to be an impossible task, but JB leaves for India with a cantankerous old scout (Alan Arkin) and secures the help of an offbeat pitching coach (Bill Paxton) in the hopes that he can find the type of talent that can save his business.
Movies like this illustrate why I love sports. The stories of unlikely triumph and human achievement are irresistable to me. The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more appealing, and Disney has a great track record with sports movies lately. I was with my family at the theatre and the ages ranged from 8 to 74, and everybody had a fantastic time. I also really enjoyed seeing Jon Hamm play a character with some warmth, in stark contrast to his hard-edged work on Mad Men. With his steady work anchoring the film, the supporting cast is allowed to flourish. Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal and Pitobash play the young pitchers Rinku, Dinesh and their mentor Amit and they provide both comedy and emotion as they make the difficult transition from rural villages in India to Los Angeles. Lake Bell also brightens up the movie as the love interest that JB never sees coming. Her character Brenda is unafraid to be blunt and honest with JB and she is instrumental in JB’s transformation. Million Dollar Arm is a great palate cleanser in between all of the louder and more bombastic summer movies, and I enjoyed it. B+