It's about time we had an old fashioned, feel good film and Million Dollar Arm fills the bill perfectly. No explosions, no car crashes, no f-bombs. Just a sweet, charming story and a travelogue thrown in for good measure.
Based on a true story, a once successful sports agent played by Jon Hamm (from TV's "Mad Men") is about to lose it all when his best prospect is lured away by a big conglomerate. He's changing channels on TV one night and comes across "Britain's Got Talent" and Susan Boyle singing her patented, "I Dreamed a Dream". He flips the channel changer and comes across a cricket game. Going back and forth he gets an idea. Why not go to India, stage a national competition, offering a million bucks for the best cricket player he can find and bring him to the United States. He'll teach him how to throw a baseball and get him a major league try out.
The scenes shot in Mumbai (it used to be called Bombay) are terrific. The excursions out into to the country show the poverty and hardships that exist but also the importance of family among the Indian people. He finds not just one, but two strong armed young men and brings them to America where their struggle with language and cultural difficulties provides some wonderfully amusing moments.
Hamm has been so intent on his own career he has formed no real relationships, despite the attractive medical student played by Lake Bell who rents a small cottage on his property. It is she who befriends the boys and comes to the rescue when things aren't going well. A couple of small roles are handled by some real pros. Alan Arkin as a retired baseball coach steals every scene he's in and, always dependable Bill Paxton as a pitching coach is perfect.
This would be an easy film to take apart. Sure it's predictable and manipulative and about fifteen minutes too long, but it's also warm, inspiring and a lot of fun to watch. And while the credits role we see the real young men and are brought up to date with what really happened when they finally get the chance to show their stuff.
Time: 124 minutes
Rating: PG for mild language and some suggestive content
Filed under: Movie Reviews