Thursday, May 15, 2014


Bottom Line:  This poor man’s JERRY MAGUIRE meets television’s PERFECT STRANGERS is a straight forward, simple and stylish – if not occasionally unsatisfying – look at the sport of baseball and creativity born of desperation.  Jon Hamm is a welcome sight in his first leading man role and does a very good job of selling his practically unlikeable character – but the real heroes, two make-shift, would-be pitchers are all but pushed aside to only show just how crazy the differences are between India and America (we don’t have pizza where we’re from, pizza is delicious!).  Dig too deep here and you’ll miss all the surface level stuff – this is a movie with little depth, a movie unwilling to challenge.  They’re just as happy with a walk as they are a homerun.  The atmosphere is hurried, with characters called to the mound when they’re needed and just as quickly sent back to the bullpen when they’re not.  There’s a formula at play that worked much better for Disney’s other sports movies like REMEMBER THE TITANS (2000; B+), THE ROOKIE (2002; A-), MIRACLE (2004; A-) and INVINCIBLE (2006; B+).  More focus should have been placed on the people that mattered, the sport that wanted them and the inherent intrigue that followed…  But like I mentioned before, this is still a product of the Mouse House, and with that comes a polished, family friendly and easy to chew on charm.  It could have been better, but it’s still a fairly safe bet…
Starring: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell and Alan Arkin
Directed by: Craig Gillespie (FRIGHT NIGHT, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL and MR. WOODCOCK)
Running time: 124 minutes
Studio description: Based on a true story, Disney's "Million Dollar Arm" follows JB Bernstein, a once-successful sports agent who now finds himself edged out by bigger, slicker competitors. He and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) will have to close their business down for good if JB doesn't come up with something fast. Late one night, while watching cricket being played in India on TV, JB comes up with an idea so radical it just might work. Why not go to there and find the next baseball pitching sensation? Setting off for Mumbai with nothing but a gifted but cantankerous scout (Alan Arkin) in tow, JB stages a televised, nationwide competition called "Million Dollar Arm" where 40,000 hopefuls compete before two 18-year-old finalists, Rinku and Dinesh (Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal), emerge as winners. JB brings them back to the United States to train with legendary pitching coach Tom House (Bill Paxton). The goal: get the boys signed to a major league team. Not only is the game itself difficult to master, but life in the U.S. with a committed bachelor makes things even more complicated-for all of them. While Rinku and Dinesh learn the finer points of baseball and American culture, they in turn teach JB the true meaning of teamwork and commitment. Ultimately, what began as a purely commercial venture becomes something more and leads JB to find the one thing he was never looking for at all-a family. (c) Walt Disney Pictures

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