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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Movie Review - Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm (2014)
Starring Jon Hamm, Lake Bell, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Pitobash, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, and Alan Arkin 
Directed by Craig Gillespie

Million Dollar Arm is an amiable sports drama that follows many cinematic paths trodden before and does so well enough, although it lacks a bit of drive and momentum, meandering as it tells its true story of two youths from India (Suraj Sharma and MadhurMittal) who are discovered by down-on-his-luck sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) in a last ditch effort to save his floundering career.  With cricket being India's go-to sport, J.B. concocts an idea to head to India, create a reality show to find those who can fast pitch a baseball (therein building excitement in the country), and help buoy his career by "selling" one of these athletes to a US baseball team.  With this being a Disney film, a happy ending is likely not out of the question so some of the flick's dramatic elements lack some gravitas, but the struggles of young Rinku and Dinesh as they attempt to make their country proud are surprisingly touching.

I've never watched Mad Men -- I've tried a few times and failed -- so my connection with Jon Hamm mainly stems from his guest appearances on 30 Rock.  As a leading man here, there is a charisma present that is much needed, but there's also a smarmy cockiness that exudes which is certainly fitting for a sports agent whose struggle to venture on his own has proven unsuccessful thus far.  We find ourselves rooting for J.B. from the get-go not only in his struggle to succeed in business, but also in his rocky relationship with his renting tenant Brenda played by Lake Bell, who is quite charming and continues to impress this reviewer.

Million Dollar Arm is by no means a home run, but it certainly doesn't strike out either.  With equal opportunity spent on both the young Indian ballplayers and J.B.'s personal troubles, director Craig Gillespie does a nice job balancing both story lines in a way that's respectful to all parties involved.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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