John Hamm stars in “Million Dollar Arm,” the latest Disney feel-good sports genre movie. It delivers everything that you would expect from such a film and a few extras. It is based on a true story, which always adds a little extra in the inspirational column.
Hamm, plays JB Bernstein, a sports agent prone to rushing around Los Angeles in his Porsche. You meet him at a cross-roads in his career. He’s trying to save his agency, but can’t get an important deal to close. So he decides to come up with an out of the box idea — find undiscovered talent on the Cricket fields of India.
That’s where the million dollars come in. JB will organize a contest for Cricket Bowlers with the winner earning a chance at $1 Million and an MLB contract. The movie then jumps to India where we are served some fun jokes with a side of travel montage. Eventually the winners are spotted and the whole kaboodle moves to America.
Once in America, the relationships of the main characters become more involved and twist around in slightly unexpected ways, but not too unexpected.
Hamm gave a solid performance as the sports agent JB, but the character never really elevated to something special. Lake Bell (in the love interest / team mom role) did manage to make a less central role into something special.
Rinku (“Life of Pi’s” Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) play the contest winners. They did a great job conveying the feeling of separation and anxiety the real players must have felt during their first trip to America. One of the standouts of the film was the enthusiastic translator Amit (Pitobash). He not only provided a lot of the comedy, but actually managed to have a nice arch of character development too.
In the end, it is the same formula for inspirational sports story once again, just with a little Indian spice added in. Of course, since it’s a Disney film, there’s some sugar to help that spice go down easy. Just because “Million Dollar Arm” follows the Disney formula doesn’t mean you should skip it. It was charming and entertaining and comfortable and sometimes that is just fine for a film.