Do not be misled by the title. “Million Dollar Arm” is so much more than a “sport” film; it is a human interest, accurate depiction of greatness springing forth from desperation.
JB Bernstein, down on his fortune, sports agent (Jon Hamm hammers the role) and his partner Aash (terrific Aasif Mandvi) unorthodoxly decide to pluck their recruits, pitchers from India; needing “million dollar arms”; after watching cricket, India’s national sport, JB brazenly travels to the land of extremes in quest of his players. The film sizzles with the tryouts and features ubiquitous, cacophonous honking; kaleidoscopic colors, universal concoction of people, cows, tuk tuks, Tata cars, trucks, buses; children reveling in the uniqueness of Americans looking for talent among their disparate, multifaceted population. Director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Thomas McCarthy capture the gutsy wonderment and salient attraction that those who venture to India find incapable of resisting.
Winners, able to pitch balls with a velocity of 90 mph; Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) land in Los Angeles; their genuine bewilderment is classically depicted by these talented young men. Their escort/translator, Amit (stunning performance by Pitobash) is inadequate in quelling their homesickness; plus, their unfamiliarity with the nuances of baseball, test the boundaries of Coach Tom House’s (consummate Bill Paxton) patience.
What follows is at times schmaltzy, but profoundly loyal to the actual events. JB has a metamorphosis precipitated by the vicissitudes of his jejune pitchers and stroked by Brenda (earthy, warm Lake Bell); she strips the layers off the playboy’s flimsy facade, exposing the man beneath.
Exiting, spirits soaring “Million Dollar Arm”, gifts audiences a heartening tale of one man’s ingenuity, two boys monumental aptitude and the power of a few to inspire the many; India’s villages are now hot beds of hope, where once there was none.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!