Million Dollar Arm, Hollywood English Film Review, Johnson Thomas, Rating: * * 12

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 Million Dollar Arm(English) Rating: *  *  ½  Sentimental myth-making drivel drives this sports movie based on true events about  sports agent J B Bernstein’s attempt to turn two Indian cricket bowlers into Major league Baseball pitchers. It’s slick but not exactly fulfilling!

English Film Review
Johnson Thomas
Film: Million Dollar Arm
Director: Craig Gillespie        

Rating: *  *

Synopsis:Inspired by a true story, this sports drama from director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Thomas McCarthy follows the journey of an aging American sports agent (Jon Hamm) who attempts to save his failing business by traveling to India and recruiting a cricket pitcher to play in the major leagues. Fearing that the recruitment agency he owns with partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) is about to go bust, sports agent JB Bernstein (Hamm) has a flash of inspiration while watching a game of Indian cricket on television. JB travels to Mumbai with a sharp-eyed veteran scout (Alan Arkin) and announces a nationwide contest to find India's best pitcher. Dubbed the "Million Dollar Arm" competition, it quickly draws in 40,000 hopeful athletes in search of their big break. When 18-year-old finalists Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) come out on top, JB arranges for them to train under famed pitching coach Tom House (Bill Paxton) until they're ready to join the major leagues. Though at first the two talented pitchers experience a serious case of culture shock, in time they begin to adjust to American customs and their growing relationship with JB takes on a familial tone, offering the self-absorbed agent an important life lesson in the power of commitment
Back in 2007, Bernstein, a driven agent who at one time represented Barry Bonds and Emmett Smith, staged a contest in India with the intention of finding the baseball equivalent of Yao Ming from among the country’s legions of cricket bowlers, with the winner receiving a $100,000 prize and a shot at a major league contract.
As portrayed by Hamm, Bernstein is clearly feeling the pressure of a career that hasn’t quite gone as planned since starting his own agency and that Million Dollar Arm reality TV competition is a last-ditch attempt to keep his business afloat.

as Bernstein traipses from Jaipur to Calcutta to Bangalore in the company of an enthusiastic volunteer assistant/translator (popular Bollywood comic Pitobash) and a narcoleptic retired baseball scout (a delightfully craggy Alan Arkin) whose finely tuned ears tell him all he needs to know — that none of these cricket-bowling lads can throw a baseball anywhere near major-league speed and accuracy. Until, of course, a couple of promising prospects do emerge

It’s a Jerry McGuire, Slumdog Millionaire, The Blind Side combo and and has quite a few shout-out moments, as is wont for such generic offerings. The humor is a little off-beat , the characters are reasonably  well-drawn, the script does get a little laid-back and the narrative a little too indulgent in sentiment. Jon Hamm, though, manages to make Bernstein look a little more human than he does. And that’s the main triumph of this otherwise none-the-wiser effort. “Million Dollar Arm” is arguably more about the journey than the final destination. The plotting is undeniably predictable, the India scenes are depicted in largely the same chaotic, exoticized tradition employed by the West. Endless traffic snarls ,spicy stomach-upsetting cuisine, poor sanitary conditions, and inscrutable locals who throw their hands in the air and say things like, “Here in India, we do things a little differently.”  Unfortunately the film is not any different from the many sports themed movies that came before it. The color palette veers to the east while the music by Rahman, manages a quieted connect.  The Indian characters also speak much of their dialogue in Hindi, which is a relief .  This film may be an entertainer of sorts but the traditional ploys do take the mickey out of the enjoyment!


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