Million Dollar Arm

Reviewed
Sat. 8/11/18
Million Dollar Arm
3.8333333333333
Acting
4
4/5
Morality
4
4/5
Music
4
4/5
Story
4
4/5
Visuals
4
4/5
Kernel Factor
3
3/5
An easy and enjoyable watch.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
DVD or Streaming >27in
Viewing Crew:
Myself
Times Watched:
2
Genre:
Sports
Payment Method:
Rental/Redbox
Review:

"Million Dollar Arm" is the true story of JB Bernstein who has been a successful sports agent, but is looking for his next big client. He decides to risk everything and go recruit a pitcher in India to play in the MLB. Sounds easy, except for the part that no one plays baseball in India. I watched "Million Dollar Arm" when it came out in theaters a few years ago and really enjoyed it. My review then is probably the same as my review now. The simple point, if you want something easy and enjoyable for you and your family/spouse to watch, this is a good bet. Also, I feel like I'm a sucker for these Hollywood/Bollywood mash-ups (Slum Dog Millionaire, Lion, Life of Pi). 

Acting
I would've thought Jon Hamm ("JB") was a sports agent. He has the look, the grit, and the drive that just seems to flow naturally. He really worked for this story. The Indian actors they got to play in the film as extras and main talent were all wonderful. A huge shoutout to Pitobash ("Amit") who connects us to the Indian culture in the most endearing way. Although Suraj Sharma ("Rinku") and Madhur Mittal ("Dinesh") don't have much to say, their mannerisms are good and I'm mostly rooting for them, even though I'm at times frustrated by them. Alan Arkin ("Ray") must have had fun making this movie - he brings the lightness that I needed. Bill Paxton ("Tom House") is a great coach - he had the total look and persona needed for the character. The x-factor actress was Lake Bell ("Brenda"). Without her this movie just doesn't have the charm. She is key to "JB's" transformation, and I just loved how her part worked and how she acted it. The character who adds a very strange "evil character" feel to the film Tzi Ma ("Chang"). I personally didn't think his character needed to be taken to the lengths they did (e.g. drive off in a limo with security guards LOL - it's a Disney movie people). 
Morality
I love the risk/reward of this film, I like "JB's" transformation, and I really appreciate how the cast keeps things family-friendly (since it didn't need to be crazy). I love the idea of reaching out to a new culture you know nothing about - even though "JB" stumbles through lots of prejudice and stereotypes. Parents, just note, "JB" wakes up with different women in his bed a few times, but this is definitely tween/teen-friendly. 
Music
Good music - mostly Indian, which was appropriate and I enjoyed. I felt like they should've licensed some overly-American song when the kids arrived in America. The movie could've used an English lyrical song, because there were plenty of montages.
Story
"Million Dollar Arm" required an incredible commitment to retell properly. Film in two countries, recreate all sorts of memorabilia, find hundreds of extras, and do it all only a few years after the actual event occurred. I was so impressed with that aspect. As for the Story, we rabbit trail a couple of times, but it's part of "JB's" transformation. I enjoyed the montages, although they were plentiful, because it keeps the story moving well. I guess my biggest problem with the film is, "So, did it work? Are MLB teams actively recruiting in India." The answer is "probably not" and I explain my thinking on that in the Kernel Factor section. 
Visuals
See what I wrote above in the Story section. They had to commit to tell this story in a believable way and I think they really succeeded in that. Filming in front of the Taj Mahal - the sort of stuff you could never do in America or if you weren't Disney. I'm SO impressed with the fact that the actors (or doubles) could actually pitch. Whether or not the ball was going 90 MPH didn't matter to me, they actually had the right form and looked legit while pitching. That was so key to this Story and its Visuals.
Kernel Factor
My biggest complaint with this movie - I've seen this in "Cool Runnings" and "Eddie the Eagle" (and others) - we followed a great story, but our characters didn't "win". They get "participation" awards. "JB" is constantly criticized in the movie for pulling a marketing stunt, and in many ways I feel like this movie is a bit of a marketing stunt. Now, don't let that keep you from watching this, but just beware. Enjoy.