Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Million Dollar Arm, 2014

Million Dollar Arm, directed by Craig Gillespie (Fright Night, Mr. Woodcock), is the true and inspiring story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein who travels to India to recruit two young and talented cricketers who can throw a ball really fast—and takes them to America to train for Major Baseball League. 

However, JB, nicely essayed by Jon Hamm (Mad Men), is in for a surprise when he realises, much later, that the boys he has selected from a small rustic village are actually football fans. But that little detail doesn't get in the way of things.

Do the young teenagers fulfil JB’s dream, and their own, in a foreign land—or do they let him, and themselves, down?

I liked this film for its Indianness—the long search for the right candidates in the colourful and vibrant countryside; the customary village send-off for the two lucky boys, with garlands and teary-eyed farewells; their struggle to adapt to a new language and culture; the offering of prayers the Hindu way; yoga with JB's charming neighbour Brenda (Lake Bell); and the growing friendship between JB and the boys. An Indian interpreter lends a nice touch of humour on the journey to baseball glory.

By the end of the film, JB is humbled by his experience and therein lies the beauty of Million Dollar Arm, which should appeal to fans of both cricket and baseball.


Western films set in and around India—Bend It Like Beckham, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Life of Pi, The Hundred Foot Journey, and many others—are a delight to watch on English movie channels

For more reviews of Overlooked Films, Audio and Video, hop over to Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

26 comments:

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    1. David, thank you. There are no major characters in the film and the plot is uncomplicated.

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  2. I'd heard of this film but had forgotten about it. I wonder how wide a distribution it had. Looks like it's well worth a view.

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    1. Charles, as far as I know, it didn't come to the theatres here. The film is entertaining. I realised baseball is no cakewalk.

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  3. Oh, this sounds like a terrific film, Prashant! And it's nice to know that it is also authentically Indian. I'm not overly knowledgeable about cricket, but the human story here is fascinating.

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    1. Margot, there are several Indian elements in the film, which largely plays out in your part of the world. It's a nice and entertaining movie.

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  4. Never heard of this one Prashant, I'll check it out, thanks.

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    1. Col, you won't be disappointed. One for the family.

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  5. I caught a bit of this movie last week on cable and it looked good. But since I came in somewhere in the middle, I shut it off. I want to see the whole thing from the beginning. I will check it out this week – which, coincidentally, is the week of the World Series.

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    1. Elgin, you will like the beginning, especially JB's tour of India to select the two boys. You will witness a small but a very real part of India.

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  6. I had only vaguely heard of this film, Prashant. But I wouldn't have paid too much attention because I don't much like Jon Hamm. (Hated MAD MEN.) But still, since you liked it so much, I'll keep an eye out. I love baseball. :)

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    1. Yvette, Bill Paxton has a small role in the film. He plays a reluctant baseball coach to the boys. I have never seen MAD MEN but Jon Hamm is passable.

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  7. Sounds very good, Prashant. I had heard of the movie but did not know much about the story.

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    1. Tracy, you will enjoy the film. I liked the blend of cricket and baseball in the film.

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  8. I definitely want to see this now - thanks Prashant.

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    1. Sergio, you're welcome. I'd like to know your thoughts on the film. It has a good bit of fun.

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  9. Off topic, butnjust wanted to wish you a very happy last day of October!

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    1. Thank you, Richard! That's very nice of you. I hope you have a very happy November and end of year.

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  10. I like films like this and need to see it.

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    1. Oscar, the last two decades have seen many such films. I recommend "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "The Hundred Foot Journey."

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  11. Prashant – I borrowed a DVD and enjoyed this movie. It could have easily gone off the rails, but it handled the story of Rinku and Dinesh with a lot of respect. Those guys must be amazing athletes to have progressed that quickly. I particularly liked the farewell scenes with their families, but wished the movie spent more time in India. Alan Arkin as an old talent scout and Pitobash as a man with a dream to be a coach were both funny without going over the edge. Thanks for reviewing it.

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    1. Elgin, you summed up the film very well. I didn't go into details for fear of spoiling the movie. The farewell scenes are exactly as they take place in villages and towns, and even in cities. I'm glad you enjoyed the film. Have you seen "Lagaan" (2001) which was nominated for an Oscar?

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    2. I hope I didn’t spoil the movie for anyone. I think people will enjoy the journey of the characters from the search for cricket players to the attempt to convert them to baseball players. Another word about the farewell scene, it reminded me of some of the films of John Ford. He had a lot of family scenes with people leaving, or returning, that were quite touching (How Green Was My Valley, The Searchers, Fort Apache). I will look for LAGAAN. And here’s one for you, THE ROOKIE, starring Dennie Quaid as a high school teacher and former student athlete, who gets a second chance to try out for a major league baseball team. It too is from the Walt Disney company.

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    3. Not at all, Elgin. I remember John Ford, though vaguely, but I know I have seen HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY starring the recently deceased Maureen O'Hara. I might have had a copy of Richard Llewellyn's novel, too, though I can't say I read it.

      I enjoyed THE ROOKIE partly because I like Dennis Quaid as an actor. His character proves that you are never too old to realise your dreams and ambitions.

      By the way, it never occurred to me to use the term "pitcher" in my review, the equivalent of which in cricket is "bowler."

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  12. I had never come across this film, but really like the sound of it. As you say, nice for family watching.

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    1. Moira, I think you'll like this film. You'll get a glimpse of rural India as it really is. The movie is mildly entertaining and that works in its favour.

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