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Million Dollar Arm (baseball movie)

Rating:
Star4
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Million Dollar Arm: Rated “PG” (2 hours and 4 minutes)

Coming all the way from India
Coming all the way from IndiaWalt Disney Pictures
Bring the heat
Bring the heatDisney Pictures

Starring: Jon Hamm, Bill Paxton, Lake Bell, Suraj Sharma, Aasif Mandvi

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Here is a very unlikely but totally heartening sports story (based on actual events) were a couple of kids who never picked up a baseball wound up with major league contracts literally 10 months from the moment they first picked up a baseball. As unlikely as this sounds, it becomes even more unbelievable when you factor in that both of the young me were from India, and neither spoke English at the start of this tale. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel who were discovered by sports agent J.B. Bernstein after winning a reality show competition. Then they were flown from their native India, to the U.S. and taught how to play ball by first-rate trainers.

According to the story, JB Bernstein (Ham), a once very successful sports agent who, along with his partner, Aash (Mandvi) left the relative safety of working for a big agency and are have been working on their own for the past couple of years. Now, while things started of pretty well for them, they have fallen on some rough times. BJ and Aash are currently finding themselves edged out by bigger, slicker competitors. In fact it is starting to look like they may have to close their business down for good if JB doesn’t come up with something fast. Then, late one night, while watching cricket being played in India on TV, JB comes up with an idea so radical it just might work. Why not go to there and find the next baseball pitching sensation amongst the cricket players?

This sets off a last ditch plan with him heading for Mumbai with nothing but a gifted but cantankerous scout (Alan Arkin) in tow. Once in India, JB stages a televised, nationwide talent hunt called “Million Dollar Arm” where 40,000 hopefuls compete to (hopefully) score a MLB contract. What he winds up with are a pair of 18-year-old finalists, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), emerge as winners. JB transports them back to the U.S. to train with legendary pitching coach Tom House (Paxton). However, this now proves to be just a touch more difficult to master than one would think (especially for a couple of guys who never played ball in their lives).

Not only that, life in the U.S. with a committed, workaholic-bachelor makes things even more complicated for all of them. The beauty of this story comes into play as Rinku and Dinesh learn the finer points of baseball and American culture, they wind up teaching JB the true meaning of teamwork and commitment. Ultimately, what began as a purely commercial venture for JB becomes something more and leads JB to find the one thing he was never looking actually for at all. The film, while it comes off as a formulized set piece, is again, is based on actual events and winds up being not only a fun film, but actually, a pretty good baseball film as well.

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Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.