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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Million Dollar Arm (2014)

This story, based on a real one, is not so straight ahead happy as you might expect from something Disney put together.  JB Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) is an LA sports talent agent who had a high paying job with a talent management group and decides to go out on his own.  That is largely a failure and he is about to fold when he comes upon a gimmick.  How about a contest in India to find a cricket player who can pitch at Major League Baseball speed?  Bring them to the US, have them work with Tom House (played by Bill Paxton), a pitching coach with a reputaion for breaking all the rules successfully, and get them a MLB tryout.  He gets a sponsor for his idea, and off he goes on a tour of India with Ray Poitevent (played by Alan Arkin) as his pitching scout in tow.

JB is a very shallow, largely unlikable guy who is quick with the witty comebacks but very short on heart.  He plucks two Indian boys who have some talent from small villages who speak no English and plops them down in the middle of a high stress situation in LA.  They are Dinesh (Madher Mittel, who was Dev Patel's criminal brother in "Slumdog Millionaire") and Rinku (Shuraj Sharma, the star of  "Life of Pi"), who play their parts to perfection.  JB does eventually have his cold heart melted, but it takes most of the movie to accomplish it.  The good news is that the story and the Indian scsenery make the movie work watching.

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