Million Dollar Arm was directed by Craig Gillespie who was previously best known for Fright Night (2011). The screenplay was written by Thomas McCarthy who wrote the story for Pixar’s highly regarded Up (2009). It’s star is John Hamm who is best known for the TV series Mad Men and features support from Alan Arkin, Pitobash, Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal.
The film is based on the true story of sports agent J. B. Bernstein who has been having a rough couple of years since deciding to go solo and the final nail in the coffin is losing a key potential new client. In a desperate attempt to ignite his career again he is inspired to travel to India after watching cricket on television. The purpose of his visit – tap into a massive potential market by launching a competition to find two young men to travel back to America to train to be top class pitchers and win a Major League Baseball (MLB) contract.
There are no surprises with this film. Bernstein is the deal focused sports agent bachelor who finds his previously well organised life thrown into chaos by his new Indian arrivals. Arkin is a grouchy old baseball scout who can spot a talented pitcher by just listening to the sound of the ball. Bill Paxton plays a college coach, Tom House, with the ability to turn just about anyone into a star. By this point I think you can see where this is going.
The film treads a fine line between racism and honest ignorance as Bernstein comments on the smells, the chaos and his issues with the local food. There is an attempt to introduce us to the lives of the local Indians but these scenes are brief and not very involving. There is the obligatory romance that starts up out of the blue and the heroes have to sink to new lows before rising again.
The film I want to see is the story where the focus is on the two Indian guys in which we get to experience the journey from their point of view. The problem with this is that Hollywood studios want a star to bank on so I don’t see it happening anytime soon. It’s inoffensive stuff but it lacks that strong feel good factor that you need to make it work.