SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) finds that business has changed and things aren’t going well for his career. In a last ditch effort to save his livelihood he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” With the help of cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin), he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18-year-old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India, the boys, who have never left their rural villages, are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball, JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell), learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.
REVIEW: Based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm is a heartwarming story of how two 18-year old boys from India with no knowledge of baseball, but instead knacks for throwing fast balls, win a competition and leave their country to travel to the United States with the goal of being signed in the major leagues. The movie tugs on your heart strings as you watch their journey unfold, facing the hardships of an unknown country, language, culture, and even food. As expected, the boys cling to each other as that's all they have that is familiar.
If you've never been anywhere in India, the film's depiction of Mumbai is on-point, complete with the multitude of vehicular and pedestrian traffic intermixed with each other, blaring horns, and sweltering heat. The Indian temperament is also captured quite remarkably, and is illustrated in particular by the boys' dedication to their daily baseball training sessions, though progress was crawling and the task at hand daunting. Also characteristic, is their steadfast loyalty to their "Mr JB Sir", despite him seeing them as dollar signs and treating them as such early on.
There are a couple of scenes which are sweetly comical - discovering pizza for the first time, and wanting to know if baseball mitts really are required for catching. It's hard not to fall in love with their innocence.
Worth mentioning, is the film score which was done by A. R. Rahman, an Indian composer probably best known for his music in "Slumdog Millionaire" and for which he won two Academy Awards.
In my opinion, there is very little that could be done to improve on this film. Million Dollar Arm has all the characteristics that make for a satisfying and memorable story - love, loyalty, perseverance, and victory, coupled with heartfelt acting by the cast. Five out of five stars is my rating, and you wouldn't do the film justice by waiting for it on DVD. This one is deserving of a trip to the theater.
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