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Million Dollar Arm Movie Review

Reviewed by on May 16, 2014
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Can two teens who never even picked up a baseball become major league pitchers? With the right support, love and training, you bet! Check out Kidzworld’s review of Million Dollar Arm.

By: Lynn Barker

Show Him the Money!

Popular sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) loses a money-making client to a bigger agency. This may mean failure for J.B.’s small firm. Unless he can find a another major client or whip up some kind of promotion that will bring in the big money, he might be doomed and his partner Ash (Adsif Mandvi) would have to quit to support his family elsewhere. A single playboy without any solid emotional support in his life, J.B. starts telling his troubles to his tenant Brenda (Lake Bell), a pretty, smart medical student. There might be a spark there.

J.B. (Jon Hamm) and Brenda (Lake Bell) watch the boys playJ.B. (Jon Hamm) and Brenda (Lake Bell) watch the boys playCourtesy of Disney

Million Dollar Idea

While watching a TV reality show, J.B. gets the idea to create a sports-based talent hunt for the next big major league pitchers. He’ll start in India where cricket is the huge game, recruit cricket players, turn them into star baseball players and convert that country’s residents into baseball fans! He’ll more than save his small agency! A backer gives him promotion money. He’ll have to do it in a year.

J.B. is sure his scheme will workJ.B. is sure his scheme will workCourtesy of Disney

Putting the Team Together

J.B. recruits a coach (played by Bill Paxton) and an elderly but very good baseball scout (Alan Arkin) and is off to India to set up try-outs to find the fastest young pitchers; the guys with “million dollar” arms.  Looking for speeds 80 mph and above, J.B. and team are discouraged with try-out speeds only hitting 45 until two impoverished Indian teens Rinku Singh (Suraj Sherma of Life of Pi) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal of Slumdog Millionaire) both throw in the 80’s! The guys aren’t even cricket players. They just have natural talent.  

Rinku, J.B. and Dinesh visit Rinku's village in IndiaRinku, J.B. and Dinesh visit Rinku's village in IndiaCourtesy of Disney

The Finals

After going to rural areas in India to meet the families of Rinku and Dinesh, J.B. realizes how much this kind of dream means to the teens and their families. There is no money but there is love there. Now the guys will go to L.A. with 16 others to see who can win “Million Dollar Arm”. J.B. and Brenda are regularly skypeing now and she is growing on him.

J.B. and scouts hope to find great pitchersJ.B. and scouts hope to find great pitchersCourtesy of Disney

Strangers in a Strange Land

In L.A., Dinesh and Rinku are “boys gone wild” as they discover all the strange, high tech gadgets and club life. They push all the buttons in their hotel elevator and are kicked out. They have to come to stay with J.B. who feels not only invaded but rejected because tenant Brenda is dating a hot intern. The guys start training at USC but can’t catch any balls with the big, awkward baseball gloves they are given. It’s not looking good. They have to be ready for try-outs in six months. Bored and homesick, the boys watch soaps and “Real Housewives” on J.B.’s TV and discover yummy pizza!

J.B. introduces the guys to pizza and tvJ.B. introduces the guys to pizza and tvCourtesy of Disney

Missing Family Love

With their parents so far away the guys really need support and J.B. is too busy trying to save his business to even come watch them practice. They feel abandoned and go on a partying spree, finally throwing up in J.B. Porsche and he yells at them, making them feel even worse.

Brenda (Lake Bell) comes to a gameBrenda (Lake Bell) comes to a gameCourtesy of Disney

Brenda to the Rescue

Brenda advises J.B. to be the “family” that the two guys need or they might fail totally. He’s got to stop putting deals before people! He finally “gets” it and starts being their pal. He and Brenda get closer. Can this strange group become a surrogate family? After blowing one try-out, Dinesh and Rinku almost go home but J.B. now really cares for them and fights to get them another chance to make the big leagues. Will they make it this time?

Jon Hamm (J.B. with the real Rinku and Dinesh)Jon Hamm (J.B. with the real Rinku and Dinesh)Courtesy of Disney

Wrapping Up

Although the story gets a bit repetitive as the cute young Indian pitcher hopefuls have trouble when trying out for the big leagues then have to re-rally their skill and determination to try out again, Million Dollar Arm is a very warm, fuzzy and inspiring tale that is based on a true story. “Mad Men” TV star Jon Hamm is wonderful as the career-driven playboy who has to learn that family, no matter how unusual, is really everything.

The boys want to hit the town in HollywoodThe boys want to hit the town in HollywoodCourtesy of Disney

As the wide-eyed, talented young men from India, Suraj Sherma and Madhur Mittal are really believable and sympathetic. You can certainly put yourself in their shoes. What would you do if you got transported from a lower class life into fame and fortune just because you could throw a baseball…… really fast?

Lake Bell does a great job as Brenda (whom the real J.B. later married). She’s a strong woman yet sensitive and is really the catalyst for putting everything into working order for J.B. and his young protégés.

The movie might be a bit slow in the middle for very young audience members but there is enough fun and heart there for us to rate the film 4 stars.

Million Dollar Arm Movie Rating: 4

Million Dollar Arm PosterMillion Dollar Arm PosterCourtesy of Disney

See Disney’s Million Dollar Arm starting May 16th!