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'Million Dollar Arm' review: A thin, sports movie glazed with Disney spirit

Jon Hamm and Lake Bell at the premiere of "Million Dollar Arm."
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Million Dollar Arm (2014)

Rating:
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Turn “Jerry Maguire” into a Disney movie and sprinkle a dash of “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and you’ve got “Million Dollar Arm.” Director Craig Gillepsie has had a series of ups and downs, including his wonderful, quirky film “Lars and the Real Girl,” but “Million Dollar Arm” is his mildest movie. With a lackluster screenplay from Oscar-nominated writer Tom McCarthy (creator of two of this reviewer’s favorite films: “The Visitor” and “The Station Agent”), there is nothing remarkable about “Million Dollar Arm.”

Faced with the possible loss of their sports agency, JB (Jon Hamm) and Aash (Aasif Mandvi) are desperate for rising stars to sign. Together, they come up with the idea of finding the next baseball heroes by staging a competition in India to recruit cricket players to convert to baseball. With the help of scout Ray (Alan Arkin) and translator Amit (Pitobash), they find Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) and Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and drop them with Tom House (Bill Paxton) for training. Unsupported by JB as he focuses his time and energy on trying to sign a football star, Dinesh and Rinku feel like failures but are encouraged by JB’s tenant, Brenda (Lake Bell). After realizing his own faults, JB starts to prioritize his friends over money.

Based on a true story, “Million Dollar Arm” is a mild, family-friendly film that keeps its story simple. More about the self-serving agent than the athletes, “Million Dollar Arm” is yet another film about someone that finally learns to put others first. It has real potential to be a cultural comparison along with being a warm, charming film, but too much emphasis on the jerk dilutes the fragility of Dinesh and Rinku and the supportive nature of Brenda. The film isn’t bad, but it’s just nothing new and nothing powerful. In this way, it’s very similar to last year’s “42.”

Rating for “Million Dollar Arm:” B-

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Million Dollar Arm” is still playing in Columbus at Rave Polaris and Regal Georgesville Square. For showtimes, click here. Expect it to disappear soon.