‘Million Dollar Arm’ a Solid Hit

dollar“Million Dollar Arm”: its “Moneyball” meets “Slumdog Millionaire”, with a little “Miracle” thrown in. Based on a true story (because what movie nowadays isn’t), the movie follows sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) who has run out of clients. In a last-ditch effort, J.B. heads to India in an attempt to find the first Major League baseball player from the country. Lake Bell and Bill Paxton also star as Craig Gillespie directs.

The trailers for “Million Dollar Arm” not only set the tone for what kind of movie it is, but it also gives away the ending. But let’s be honest: you know five minutes into the movie how it is going to end. Heck, you know just by watching one of the TV spots what is going to happen. I guess you could say the film doesn’t throw you any curveballs (right? Get it? ‘Cause baseball?!). But with a movie like this, it isn’t so much about the destination; it’s about the journey.

I wish I could make a pun and say “Jon Hamm hams it up in the main role” but he is actually well cast and has solid chemistry with the rest of the cast. Even when he is being selfish or putting business before the boys, we still want what is best for his character.

The two Indian baseball players are both actors that American audiences have seen before; Suraj Sharma was the titular character in “Life of Pi” and Madhur Mittal was in “Slumdog Millionaire”. Both do a fine job here, even if they have to play the stereotypical “confused kids in a new world” for half the movie.

There isn’t much baseball in “Million Dollar Arm”, but there is plenty to keep your interest. Every now and again Alan Arkin pops up to do his wise-cracking thing, and Jon Hamm is always good for a chuckle. There isn’t anything special about the direction or writing, but in a movie like this, it is all about the character work.

The film could have benefited from being about 15 minutes shorter (it clocks in at two hours, I think an hour 45 would have been perfect), and there may be one too many “will they be ready in time for their tryout” moments. But still, they never overdo the schmaltz, or try to attempt too many jokes.

“Million Dollar Arm” is better than the average, clichéd underdog story, and it is certainly worth a viewing, whether you’re a baseball fan or not. Its predictable and feel-good and you can see the ending coming a mile away, but it is still a very watchable and entertaining film, and sometimes it is nice to sit through a movie that doesn’t have something blowing up every six seconds.

Critics Rating: 7/10