Million Dollar Arm reminded me a lot of Slumdog Millionaire, and in fact the films share an actor and a song. The concepts, however, are drastically different: the competitive world of baseball is the focus here, instead of trivia. Also, this film mostly takes place in the U.S., although the opening scenes in India were great and reminded me a lot of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was also set there.
JB (Jon Hamm) is in a bit of a bind: Popo (Rey Maualuga), his star football player, has decided to sign with a competing agency instead of his. He’s so far behind on his bills that he has a renter (Lake Bell) living in his guest house. He’s in need of some cash, and he and his business partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) decide to do something unconventional; they go to Indian to recruit the next big baseball credit, even though cricket (similar to baseball) is king there. They launch the Million Dollar Arm contest and bring their two final contestants, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), back to the U.S. to train for one year; after the year, the two boys will go for MLB tryouts. When they actually start practicing, though, JB realizes the boys have a long way to go before they will be MLB material.
This movie is based on a true story, and if you stay through the credits, you’ll see clips and photos of the actual boys, one of whom eventually went back to India and one who is still in the U.S., although no longer currently playing baseball. Hamm, Bell, and the Indian actors all did a great job in their roles, and films are always more interesting to me when they’re based on a true story. Alan Arkin also has a fun supporting role, as does Bill Paxton (Titanic).
Yes, see this film. My only complaint about it is that it does slow down a lot during the midpoint of the movie, but I’m just not a fan of slow-paced films in general. My favorite parts were actually when the movie was set in India, which is about the first 1/4 or 1/3 of the film, although the U.S. parts are good as well. I also liked how the film got into the Indian characters’ heads a bit, as we hear them talk amongst themselves about missing home sometimes. Million Dollar Arm is a family-friendly movie that should do well at the box office its opening weekend, based on the story and its cast, and deservedly so.
Million Dollar Arm is in theaters today, May 16th, and is rated PG with a runtime of 124 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.