(SPOILER WARNING!!! This article does contain spoilers, if you haven’t seen the movie, just see the first paragraph to be informed without spoilers!!!)
Million Dollar Arm is definitely a feel good sports movie which was witty, and with a lot of culture, even though the story follows a typical Disney formula, it really took a twist on something new, and turns out to be a breathe of fresh air. Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
One thing I will say about Disney, they do make some memorable movies for both children and adults alike, however, most of their movies are victim to what I call the Disney formulaic story line. It always starts with a person with a dream, but has some sort of weakness, a miracle or their determination makes them work hard for their dream, faces adversity or failure, works harder, achieves their dream. That’s how they go, and not just Disney, a lot of movies does that. Especially in sports movies they really follow this cliched story line. I’m not saying the formula doesn’t work, but if you are going to use it, you have to twist it in a way to make it unique. It’s not easy, but Disney finds a way to make it work. That’s why they are one of the most successful media corporations. (Unless you worked in movies like John Carter and/or The Lone Ranger.) Million Dollar Arm does have that kind of formula, but they did twist it to make it unique. Plus it’s a sports movie which I like, especially when I just learned how to play the sport of cricket. I will start with what I liked, to the so so, to what I didn’t like.
What I liked, I really thought the acting was good for this movie. Starting with Jon Hamm playing a sports agent named J. B. Bernstein. Jon Hamm has the charm that makes the ladies go gaga over him. He should business charisma, a bit of a jerk in some scenes, and his transformation to a really lovable guy. Hamm played the role his way and it worked, and I thought Lake Bell playing Brenda Fenwick showed a family side which makes their chemistry an opposite attract kind of chemistry. What really impressed me the most is the two Indian pitching recruits in Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, played by Madhur Mittal and Suraj Sharma. The movie developed the characters very well in their journey becoming Major League Baseball players, and what kind of person they are with their families. I loved seeing them how they first experience American culture and how they are getting used to it little by little. Brenda was definitely the American mom for these boys, and J. B. was the all business dad, but both of then played big roles in developing these boys to become baseball pitchers. I also enjoyed the other Indian character Amit Rohan, played by Pitobash, he is probably the only person in India who loves baseball and was living his dream of becoming a coach and make a team in India. It shows that dreams are not just playing, it can be something else. The rest of the characters played their role most notably, Bill Paxton playing baseball trainer of University of Southern California, Tom House who was the voice of reason during this whole process, Tzi Ma playing the investor that shows how unethical business in sports can be, and Alan Arkin playing retired baseball scout, Ray Poitevint who provides most of the comic relief in the movie with his nonchalant old man “been there, done that” attitude. The other thing I really liked in the movie is the amount of culture they put in this movie. It gives you a big view on Indian culture and how the people are in the country. It shows how the Americans got used the culture, just like how the Indians got used to the American culture and the different experiences that happen to them during their culture shock.
The so-so, this movie did follow the Disney formulaic story line for two parts which are, the sports agent trying to save his business and the two Indian pitchers trying to land a Major League Baseball contract. They both have to go through trials and tribulations and some soul searching to really achieve their goals. However, when have you seen a sports movie about a sports agent and athletes from India. You haven’t heard about neither of these twists for story lines and that what makes it unique in it’s own way. To me, it made the movie engaging and cheering one for the people, especially the two Indian boys trying to pitch their ways to the Major Leagues.
What I didn’t like, the fact that the sport of cricket was only mentioned in giving J. B. Bernstein the idea to find baseball players in India. I was hoping they would show more of the sport, instead, it showed people not liking the sport of cricket. I was a little disappointed in that regard. The other thing is that this movie is a true story made me do more research on these two pitchers. After the movie when they signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates I was feeling good for them, but after I did research for them I felt sad. Reason is because neither of them went past their farm systems, Patel was released and he moved back to India to help with his family business, and Singh is still in the US, but is recovering from Tommy John surgery. So the real end result is a little depressing, but it does not affect the movie.
Overall, this movie is a feel good Disney sports movie. It can be an inspiration to anybody who wants to achieve in anything they want to do. It shows that they can achieve their dream through hard work and support from their family. Great for the kids and adults alike, and that’s what Disney does best!!! Final Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.