Film Review: Million Dollar Arm – Doesn’t Hit A Home Run

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million dollar arm mainBased on the true story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein, Million Dollar Arm, recounts the true events leading up to and following the staging of the reality television show Million Dollar Arm.

Via this show that traveled across India, Bernstein hoped to find talented Indian bowlers who could be trained in the US as pitchers for American Major League Baseball.

Armed with his own preconceived notions and selfishness, Bernstein comes to India and finds Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), takes them out of their simple, rural lives and dumps them into the drastically different world of Los Angeles. Far from home and out of their comfort zones, Rinku and Dinesh struggle to assimilate, whether it is escalators and elevators or rules of baseball.

Director Craig Gillespie takes his time setting up the result. The scenes shot in India are reminiscent of Slumdog Millionaire, augmented by A.R. Rahman’s impressive soundtrack (including a sample of ‘Ringa Ringa’ in one scene).

Once back in the USA, the pace slows down, dragging in parts, as Bernstein is shown struggling to juggle a floundering career with two fish out of water newbies. In tandem, there is a romantic track between Bernstein and his neighbour Brenda (Lake Bell) who helps him realize that he needs to show these two homesick but determined boys more compassion.

Jon Hamm, best known thus far as the star of Mad Men, chips in with an exceptionally controlled performance, ably accompanied by Aasif Mandvi as his partner Aash. Pitobash Tripathy is a little loud as the interpreter and baseball enthusiast shadowing Bernstein while Mittal and Sharma are barely given any scenes to sink their teeth into.

Million Dollar Arm is a family film that shows how vastly different people can affect and change one another, for the better.

Rating: ***

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