I introduced you to Disney's new film, "Million Dollar Arm" a couple of weeks ago with a ticket giveaway, and I hope the winners all enjoyed the film on Wednesday night! I actually saw it the week before, and now that the film is out in wide release, I can share my thoughts with you.
This is based on a true story. Which is kind of amazing. And I'm kind of amazed I hadn't heard about these guys before. In 2007, a sports agent named JB Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) traveled to India to produce a reality show, in hopes of discovering the next great baseball pitcher from among the nation's young cricket players. He discovered Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18-year-old boys from small Indian villages, who knew nothing about baseball. He brought them to America, where they lived with him and learned the sport, eventually getting signed to a major league team.
"Million Dollar Arm" isn't so much a movie about sports as it is a movie about drive and determination, and love and family in its different forms. And it's about culture shock and learning about each other and ourselves. Bernstein was as much a fish out of water in India as the boys were when they arrived in America. Dinesh and Rinku are fascinated with the workings of an elevator, resulting in a short but very cute scene. And in the end, Bernstein learns as much from the boys as they do from him.
One issue I did have with the film was that Jon Hamm's character, at least in the first half of the story, seems to have a lot of characteristics in common with his character from Mad Men. I honestly had a hard time not seeing Don Draper on the screen. But as his character developed that faded.
"Million Dollar Arm" is sweet and funny and, yes, inspiring. But it's definitely not saccharin. Sports fans, and those who know the story, will enjoy that aspect, as there is a lot of baseball and cricket action. And everyone will enjoy the story and the characters. My friend and I both enjoyed this film a lot more than we expected actually, and I got her thumbs way up to include in this review. Be sure to stick around for the credits to see some actual footage and stills from the real Rinku and Dinesh, the reality show that found them, and their start in the big leagues. Totally brings it home.