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Million Dollar Arm: Focus on Formula Rather than the Actual Inspirational Story.

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Million Dollar Arm

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Watching Million Dollar Arm, this writer desperately wanted to enjoy it, as it is based on a true story that is certainly inspirational. The problem was that the script focused on the story of the businessman/playboy journey to discover his heart rather than the two ball players who got the chance to live their dreams and inspire others to do the same. The script ultimately followed a formula as predictable as the political ads the people in Ohio are bombarded with every leap year.
Frankly, it felt as though John Hamm was bored and ‘phoning it in.’ He sounded like he needed to clear his throat a lot of the time, and that was painful to listen to. There have been a few sports agent trying to save his business stories over the years. The protagonist is in a series of one night stands with super models (although that part is Disneyed down in this film). He likes being single, but there is this one really deep woman who starts out as just a friend, but he enjoys her company so much (the real life romance between the couple probably did not follow that formula). Of course at some point he a situation upsets the protagonist and he’s a bit of a jerk to the girl in an impulsive moment and apologizes late (There’s a point in these films where a viewer has to wonder why a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman would settle for a serial playboy). As the previews show, he starts to see the kids he has recruited as real people and not just business investments. One can’t forget the big scary investor, who the protagonist must brown nose (as well as turd polish sales pitches).
The inspirational moments of this film would have been so much more effective if it had focused more on the two ball players. There is a scene that criticizes gimmicks and publicity stunts, but by focusing so heavily on J.B. Bernstein (John Hamm), the film ultimately turns the two characters audiences go to the film to see into gimmicks, publicity stunts and talking props.
Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal) and Rinkuh Singh (Suraj Sharma ) are both likeable and fun in this film, though they should have had a lot more screen time. Their individual introductions are among the better moments in the film. The script showed that Patel was a kid who had to leave school to help his injured father, and wanted to succeed at least partially to help his father. Singh ran track and was quick with the cheeky comment to his coach. He also had a mother who was going to miss him very much, but the substance of that story was sacrificed in favor of Bernstein’s personal journey. Once they get to America, Patel and Singh’s story is reduced to a series of unconnected, yet somewhat entertaining fish-out-of-water moments. There’s also some bonding with Bernstein and Brenda, but those moments just don’t lay a solid foundation for their final victory. The script forgets their initial stories for the rest of the film as well.
As an avid Daily Show watcher, this writer has a serious crush on Aasif Mandvi. He delivers some fantastic snark. He was great with what little he was give. Alan Arkin, did not have nearly enough screen time in this film. Fortunately, he’s one of those truly gifted people who can say so much with so few words.
Ultimately, this writer was hoping to see the stories of Patel and Singh play out when going to see this film, but ended up watch a formulaic story of Berstein unfold for two hours instead and didn’t really give a crap about Bernstein at the end of the film. There were some good moments, but at best this writer may end up watching this movie if it comes on TV when the weather is as frigid as it was this past winter.

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