Million Dollar Arm

If this wasn’t a true story, it may have been too sappy. But the fact that it was makes this one of the most enjoyable and inspirational times I’ve had at a movie in ages. here is the basic plot, straight from the official site:

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.

First the acting was dead on outstanding. Jon Hamm, whose made a career of playing dickish guys, plays one (at first here) and does it, not only so well and convincing, but does it in a real subtle way. No over the top theatrics, it all feels true. His metamorphosis throughout the movie is also extremely well done. His final speech moved me immensely not only because of what was said, buy how he said them. And kudos for the director to allow that scene to play out un-ironically and let it just marinate instead of cutting it too short or inserting some lame wisecrack.

The rest of the cast was also excellent. Lake Bell, who normally plays comedic roles, also kept it real and did an amazing job as did the two boys who played Dinesh and Rinku. If you didn’t root for them, hell if you didn’t want to reach into the screen and hug them and invite them to your house, your dead on the inside. Also shining was Pitobash as Amit, who knocks it out of the park in his final defining¬†moment too. Alan Arkin did his usual solid acting and Bill Paxton did a great job playing the kind of coach you wish your kids had.

This story was too good to be true but I’m glad it was.¬†And the movie was just plain too good. I give it an A.

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