#REVIEW: “MILLION DOLLAR ARM”
Review by Jonathan Godfrey for Mr. Will Wong
Movies and Baseball go together like peanuts and Cracker Jacks. This all began nearly seventy years ago when Gary Cooper played Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees. Thereafter the genre developed and eventually solidified itself in the 1980s. Since then it has picked up steam with each passing decade. In the 2010’s this increasing momentum has helped to expand the Genre’s scope, and Disney’s Million Dollar Arm is perfect evidence of this point.
Directed by rising star Craig Gillespie, the Film is based on the events surrounding an Indian-based Reality TV show. As the Story goes, the Show was started by sports agent J.B. Bernstein in an effort to save his career. Jon Hamm plays Bernstein, and after a quick introduction, he travels to India in hopes of finding two potential Pitchers via his broadcast marketing campaign. Madhur Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire) and Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) play the two winning Pitchers, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh respectively.
After a picturesque tour of the Indian states the two boys and their would-be coach Amit are whisked away to the United States where they must learn to develop their talents under the tutelage of USC’s Tom House (Bill Paxton). It is at this point that the drama ensues via the Characters and their co-dependent development. The lovely Lake Bell and her Character Brenda Fenwick act as an integral piece in this play. It is her, the Boys, and Amit’s discomfort with J.B. that begin to inspire a change in him. Together the group acts as a modern family navigating the nuances of inter-personal relationships and supporting each other in their endeavours.
It all makes for a classic Family Film, the type of which Disney has been celebrated for since a certain Swiss brood was stranded on an island long ago. And like its beloved films before it, Million Dollar Arm truly warms the heart without insulting the mind. Some of this is thanks to the writing of Tom McCarthy (Up, 2009), which combines dramatic dialogue and comedic wit to make for an engaging Story filled with emotion.
And then there is the Baseball connection, one which is intriguing to consider. How one man sought to make a buck by bringing one culture to another, and how that other affected the first in such a profound manner. How Baseball was changed by bringing in an Indian element, and how the man that brought it there was changed as well. It’s a story worth seeing whether a fan of movies, Baseball, or the beauty of the unexpected.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada release MILLION DOLLAR ARM on Friday, May, 16, 2014.