Disney’s Million Dollar Arm is being pitched as an American biographical sports drama based on a true story and delivers a funny, heartwarming story audiences are enjoying.
In a last ditch effort to save his career as a sports agent, JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “Million Dollar Arm.” With the help of a cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout (Alan Arkin) he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18 year old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India – the boys, who have never left their rural villages – are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball – JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell) – learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.
I’m not a big sports fan, but the trailer’s human element piqued my interest. Being an IT guy, many of my coworkers are from India so it made perfect sense to take a young Indian coworker to the advance screening. What unique way to experience the film by seeing it with someone who could truly relate to the cultural aspects of young Indian men experiencing American culture for the first time.
There’s obviously a sports aspect to the film but it’s not just about baseball. It’s about how we can get our priorities screwed up placing the desire to make money over how we treat people, how we can be short-sighted in thinking we can ignore the human element of a business transaction and still be successful. The message, certainly not a new one, is worth the reminder. In any business, relationships with the people with whom we do business should hold equal importance. Business success can follow easily when we place people before profit, which is a solid philosophy to live and work by, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
Waiting for the movie to begin I learned my Indian movie buddy’s not a sports fan, doesn’t like cricket and isn’t familiar with baseball. Would he enjoy an American sports drama centered on baseball? The portions I found amusing he did, too. He even laughed a bit heartier. I asked him about how the film depicted life in India and he assured me it was spot on. His take on the movie: a bit too emotional for his liking, but he thought that his parents would enjoy the movie. The bottom line, I enjoyed it. Both of us agree: if you like a movie with laughs, love and friendship then Million Dollar Arm pitches up a swing and a hit.
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