Saturday, May 10, 2014

Million Dollar Arm

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 9th May, 2014
Time : 121 minutes
Director : Craig Gillespie; Writers : Thomas McCarthy; Music : A R Rahman
Starring : Jon Hamm, Pitobash, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Aasif Mandvi, Darshan Jariwala, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Gregory Alan Williams, Tzi Ma

Feel good, fun film, very predictable but still manages to hold attention thanks to its Indian flavor and the self-discovery some of the characters go through, particularly Jon Hamm.

Jon is a sports agent down to his last throw of dice when he convinces a Chinese entrepreneur (Tzi Ma) to fund a search for new baseball pitcher from India’s vast pool of cricket bowlers, setting it up as a talent hunt, criss-crossing the country. After many a hiccup, they finally narrow it down to 2 candidates, Suraj and Madhur and whisk them, along with Pitobash (a wanna be baseball coach, translator) to the USA to get them to train, get ready for a tryout in a very tight deadline. Things don’t go exactly as planned and Jon at one point complains about having signed up for a talent contest, not to become a primary care-giver.

His business partner, Aasif (remember him from Ghost Town ?) and tenant, Lake Bell, are the ones helping keep things on track, while Alan Arkin and Bill Paxton as the baseball scout and coach, try to help with their wise counsel, while Darshan Jariwala plays a cameo.

This is a film that doesn’t really go deep but keeps things moving while skimming through what the characters are going through. The adjustment issues – Jon’s to India and then later for the Indian trio in America are humorously and quickly told. The relationship between Jon and Lake – beginning with a broken down washing machine, then Skype and later at home is crucial to the plot. And most fascinating of all is watching Jon’s character, the deal hungry, self-centered sports agent, try and figure out what life is about – of course, with a few helpful nudges from friends

Sport movies usually suffer from predictable endings and this one is no exception. It drags a bit in the second half too but the music score by A R Rahman helps gloss over that. It’s a true story apparently but one, surprisingly not too many Indians are aware of, so in that sense, the chief objective of doing the talent hunt, to popularize baseball in India, doesn’t really seem to have worked. Unfortunately, going by the low key promotion, release and the small crowds, even the film wont help do that here

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