CS4U Movie Review: Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” (@DisneyPictures)

Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

You’ll laugh, you’ll have a good time, and you’ll see “America’s Favorite Pastime.” Disney’s newest film, Million Dollar Arm, is based on an inspiring true story, based on what a little faith can do.

The thing about the film, like all sports films based upon true stories, is that a simple Google search can tell the filmgoer exactly how the movie is going to end. Thus, it falls to the film to tell an easily researchable (if not already well-known) story in such an entertaining and moving way that this doesn’t matter. Million Dollar Arm succeeds in this, partly due to the story of JB Bernstein (John Hamm), Rinku (Suraj Sharma), and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), not being so very well-known, and partly due to the fact that it is so easy to sympathize with the hope that these two young Indian men represent.

Million Dollar Arm has a predictable storyline for anyone who has seen a sports movie marketed as being inspiring: sports agent JB Bernstein’s career is going downhill, so in a last-ditch effort to save his livelihood and lifestyle, he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitcher in the untapped market of India. He creates “The Million Dollar Arm,” a reality show that ends up delivering two 18 year old boys who have never played the sport, but happen to be able to throw a fastball. Bernstein, hoping to sign them to a major league team, brings them to America to train, ensuing in the ultimate fish-out-of-water tale for the two young men, who have never left their rural villages. Of course, it is Bernstein who must eventually learn about true teamwork and the value of family.

Despite this standard plot, Million Dollar Arm is truly inspiring, and the importance of this story being told by Hollywood is evident for both American baseball fans and Indian fans alike. Rinku and Dinesh are the real heroes, and they are played with both a playfulness and a vulnerability that earns the moviegoers’ support right away. John Hamm is appropriately both mildly slimy and charming, and the audience roots for him as an inwardly good guy led astray by his high rolling LA lifestyle. There is humor throughout and conflict that, while you know it will resolve, is still moving. Million Dollar Arm offers enough uplifting moments and human drama to entertain even non-baseball fans, and proves that it’s a shame this story has not been widely circulated until now. Be sure to stay for the end of the film as Disney shows an actual clip of Rinku and Dinesh, and well as photos showing their  story!

Million Dollar Arm is in theaters today, May 16th. Check out a new featurette from the film titled “Dreams” below.

Million Dollar Arm – “Dreams” Featurette