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Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm

As sports-underdog movies go, Million Dollar Arm isn’t bad. It’s based on a true story that
baseball fans may already know, but it benefits from

a strong performance by Jon Hamm in the lead and a top-notch
supporting cast. I expected something a little less on-the-nose from director
Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl)
and screenwriter Tom McCarthy (The
Station Agent, The Visitor
); that’s the harshest criticism I can level at
this long but likable  mainstream movie.

Hamm plays real-life sports agent JB Bernstein, a
superficial, self-absorbed fellow whose business is falling apart. He and his
partner (Aasif Mandvi) decide that the only way to avoid being scooped in
signing young talent is to find their own, in the most unlikely place: India. They
stage a high-profile competition to find the country’s most talented boys, then
bring them to USC baseball coach Tom House (Bill Paxton) to train them, on an
accelerated schedule, to be ready for scouting season. Bernstein ignores the
human equation in all of this and is blind to the fact that he has uprooted two
unworldly young men and left them adrift in Los Angeles, which couldn’t be more
removed from the close-knit villages they’ve left behind. Suraj Sharma, from Life of Pi, and Madhur Mittal, from Slumdog Millionaire, are perfectly cast
as the would-be baseball stars. Lake Bell is very likable as Hamm’s neighbor/
tenant, and Alan Arkin continues to dominate the pigeonhole of crusty older
characters—in this case, an experienced scout who advises Hamm.

While it doesn’t break any new ground, Million Dollar Arm does provide Jon Hamm with a good starring
vehicle—and an unconventional character who isn’t terribly likable. It tells
its story well and, being a PG-rated Disney film, should entertain an
underserved audience.  





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