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Review: 'Million Dollar Arm' suffers from blandness, but so what

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Sometimes bland is good. Occasionally it’s better when it comes during a movie season known for explosions, violence and more explosions.

Such represents the primary crime of Million Dollar Arm, which opens Friday (May 16). It’s non-descript. No car crashes will kick up the bass in the theater’s surround sound systems. Good guys won’t be shooting at bad guys and no necks will be slashed.
That’s a bummer, right? No, not really because occasionally it’s nice to be able to walk in a theater with a 10-year-old and just enjoy the flick without worrying about the other stuff.

And that is the charm of this Walt Disney Studios movie. It should be of no surprise to anyone that the Mouse House followed their sports film blueprint. Glory Road. Remember the Titans. The Rookie. All took true stories and some Disney spit polish to turn them into enjoyable family fare. This is no different.

John Hamm (Mad Men) stars as JB, a floundering sports agent unable to sign his next big client. He’s in danger of losing everything he’s worked, including his home and business.

That’s when he hits upon an idea while watching Indians play cricket on late night television. He and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) hatch a plan. They enlist financial support from an investor to find and bring to America Indian athletes who can be taught to pitch in the major leagues.

That leads him to Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) who throw baseballs with enough velocity and can be taught to control it.

What happens when they arrive in America can be seen coming from the moment the movie opens, but it doesn’t matter. The success of Million Dollar Arm lies in how director Craig Gillespie (Fright Night) executes the material.

He has to deal with the crusty, stereotypical baseball scout (played with zest by Oscar winner Alan Arkin) and any number of movie clichés.

It doesn’t matter because Million Dollar Arm accomplishes its primary goal – it entertains.

Movie: Million Dollar Arm
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: John Hamm, Alan Arkin
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Rated: PG for mild language and some suggestive content
Running time: 124 minutes
George’s rating: 3.5-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com

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