Million Dollar Arm
directed by Craig Gillespie
starring Jon Hamm, Asif Mandvi, Alan Arkin
5 stars - a feel good movie that isn't saccharine sweet
ALR Green - animals as background only
Every now and then, I like to watch a "feel good" movie so I can, well, feel good. But I limit my viewing since most of them leave me feeling a bit sickly from the swelling orchestral score and manipulative scenes (now you laugh, now you cry).
Million Dollar Arm was an exception for me. I didn't find it overly sentimental or contrived, and the characters weren't altogether one dimensional (except for love interest, played by Lake Bell, cool name, by the way).
The movie is a fictionalized account of down and out sports agent, J.B. Bernstein, who sets out to revive his career by recruiting Indian cricket players to train for major league baseball. Over the past decade, I've come to know India from afar as my company has significantly expanded its workforce into that country. I found the depictions of India to be honest, particularly regarding some of the cultural differences from the United States.
Mr. Bernstein staged tryouts in several major Indian cities looking for young men who could throw both fast and accurately. He finally locates two candidates and brings them to the US to undergo intensive training, all as a prelude to major league tryouts. Ultimately, Mr. Bernstein learns how to chill and think more about people than the bottom line. That's kind of what you'd expect, right? But it happens in a way that is delightfully subtle and his stumbles along the way give one pause to think about their own actions and, perhaps, what is really important in making our way through the world.
Alan Arkin is, as always, delightful in his supporting role. The young men portraying the two lucky ones to fly to the US provide shaded performances which conveyed both their longing to do well and their desire to cautiously partake of all that is American (pizza, yum).
Yeah, the ending isn't all that surprising, but the journey is very pleasant.