Million Dollar Arm
Direction: Craig Gillespie
Actors: Jon Hamm, Lake Bell
Imagine this. An American sports agent arrives in our cricket crazy country to organize a contest which will help find baseball’s next star pitcher. “Improbable”, you say? But that’s what happened in 2008 when Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, the joint winners of the titular talent search, were recruited as pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the process, they became the first-ever players of Indian origin to compete in a major league baseball tournament in the US.
Far too pat and predictable, the fact-based Million Dollar Arm promises more than it delivers.Without let-up, director Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) adheres to formula, adopting such a shallow style that the outcome is maudlin. As for the script, it trots out every possible sports movie cliché.
At the outset, life’s pretty tough for the greaseball agent (Hamm). The loser turns winner, though, in a convenient reversal of fortune. Besides the obligatory culture clash during his trip to India, he finds two local teenagers (Suraj Sharma-Madhur Mittal) with the ability to throw an 80 mph fastball.
Back in Los Angeles, the young hopefuls are thrust into the spotlight but fail to live up to their potential at the initial tryouts. It’s now up to their mentor to instill pride and confidence in the wannabe champions.
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The message that selflessness and sheer tenacity can surmount the odds has been hammered home ad nauseam before in similarly-themed movies such as Jerry Maguire and We Are The Titans.
In this case, we barely care for the trials and tribulations of any of the characters.
A romantic subplot involving a cutesy tenant (Bell) is wearisome. AR Rahman’s background music score is straight out of a Bollywood potboiler.
At best, this well-intentioned triumph of the underdog tale makes for an okey-dokey matinee.