* * *
a baseball movie)
Based on a true story about a baseball agent who recruits two young men from India to save his dying business, “Million Dollar Arm” turns out to be much more than just another baseball movie.
Jon Hamm plays J.B. Bernstein, a cocky, self-centered agent who is losing his clients to bigger firms and needs to find a gimmick to save his business and his upscale L.A. lifestyle. After watching a cricket game on TV, a lightbulb goes off and he heads to India to hold a contest to bring two “million dollar arms” and the first Indian baseball players to America.
The best parts of the film are the scenes in India, where Bernstein experiences culture clash, and we get some interesting perspectives into the Indian way of life. Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal play the real life young men who, in spite of hating cricket, win the contest. They are separated from their families and villages and whisked off to the big city, where culture shock hits them big.
Bernstein is a big womanizer and a slick businessman who pays little attention to the needs of the two young men and their interpreter, who live with him in his swanky home. Throw in a love interest that develops slowly in spite of Bernstein’s interest in only beautiful models.
Lake Bell plays a med student who is renting his guest cottage. She sees the loneliness and frustrations of the young men and takes an interest in them (and Bernstein).
J.B. finally sees himself for who he really is and slowly comes around. All’s well that ends well, as the young men fail then pass their tryouts.
Bill Paxton has a small role as their coach and Alan Arkin does his curmudgeon act as a baseball scout.
Sure, it’s corny and manipulative, and the writers appear to take a lot of poetic license, but the fact is that two Indians did become the first American baseball players. Stick around for the credits and see shots of them and what happened to them.
Nothing heavy here, just a nice little movie for the baseball season. Rated PG, with nothing to worry about for the kids.