Based on a true story, Jon Hamm stars as Jamie “JB” Bernstein – a sports agent whose business is on its last legs. He left a very prestigious firm to be his own boss, but his future relies on signing a huge client, and that doesn’t look like it will happen.
Since being conventional isn’t working out, Jamie and his co-worker, Aash (Aasif Mandvi), decide to think outside of the box. Realizing they could open up the entire market of India to baseball merchandise if Indians had some local heroes to root for, Jamie and Aash find a big investor to bankroll the Million Dollar Arm contest.
According to the plan, they will travel to India, find some young men with unrealized potential and talent, bring them to America, train them how to play baseball, and get them signed to a major league baseball team, which will make these new ballplayers heroes in their home country (and, hopefully, the inspiration for people all over India to buy jerseys, hats, bats and more).
Can Jamie and the team find the talent?
Will the two chosen ones, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), be able to become pro ballplayers in a mere year?
Will the big investor stop writing checks when progress is not being made?
Million Dollar Arm is the predictable and formulaic movie you expect it to be, but it’s so warm and loving, you are willing to go along with it.
Writer Thomas McCarthy and director Craig Gillespie embrace that formula and deliver the moments you can see coming from a mile away, but in a welcoming fashion. We see stories of people facing huge challenges and fearing they might not have what it takes to overcome adversity. The underdogs are fighting to live a dream. Folks are bonding, and we get an “unlikely” romance you knew was going to grow as soon as the pretty lady (Lake Bell) walked onto the screen in slightly comical style.
However, the cast is so likable the audience is ready to embrace it. Pitobash Tripathy, as the man who grew up in India, but dreams of being a baseball coach, and Alan Arkin, as the ornery old time scout, provide the predictable laughs and goofiness with stereotypical characters, while Sharma and Mittal go along with the fish out of water roles they have been given, but everyone gels with good chemistry. We like seeing them going through this challenge together and feel some honest caring and teamwork starting to emerge with each hurdle that has to be overcome.
Meanwhile, Hamm seems so effortless in his charm. Million Dollar Arm would be an abysmal failure without a leading man who could relate to the people in the audience. While 99.99% of us guys in the crowd could never relate to being a hunky TV and movie star, we are overlooking the jealously to embrace a character who seems to be trying to do the right thing in the face of monumental challenges.
Million Dollar Arm isn’t MVP quality, but everyone in the audience can root for the ragtag bunch.
Million Dollar Arm is rated PG for mild language and some suggestive content.