Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Million Dollar Arm

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Judging by my pitch...I'd say I have about a dollar fifty arm.

Million Dollar Arm – 3 out of 5

If you follow my blog or know me personally, you probably know that I don’t really know much about sports.  I don’t watch the stuff and, to be honest, they sorta confuse and frighten me.  However, despite my complete lack of enthusiasm and total ignorance of all things sport, I do enjoy a great inspiration film about overcoming adversity and sporting as hard as one can sport.  Sometimes these films are amazing and fill me with pride for a competition that clearly goes over my head as to why it is so popular and, other times, they are just kinda…mediocre and have the same level of excitement I have when I’m forced to go to a sporting arena by friends/family and made to watch the sports match..

Of course, having Don Draper in the sports film didn't hurt me wanting to watch it.

He stood like that for an entire hour...and the movie shows
it in real time.

Million Dollar Arm tells the true story of famed MLB (which, thanks to Google, I found means Major League Baseball…which is a sport, I’ve heard) pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.  While on the verge of hitting rock bottom, sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) decide that they are going to discover the next great baseball pitcher by diving into the pool of cricket players (which, I’ve also heard, is another sport that was not named after the bug).  So, JB heads to where cricket is huge; India.  There, a reality show is done in order to find the right players who can pitch fast and accurate enough to be trained to play with the big dogs.  After what feels like an endeavor in the pointless, JB and a retired major league scout (Alan Arkin) finally find Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) and take them to train under veteran pitching trainer Tom House (Bill Paxton).  However, as time grows closer for the boys to try out for Major League Baseball, they start to wonder if they are actually players JB believes in or if they were just some publicity gimmick meant to strengthen JB’s fledgling career.

With Alan Arkin in the film, you know you are going to laugh with every scene that
contains him.  It's a scientific fact.

Despite my complete lack of understanding when sports come into play, I won’t pass up a sports drama because they can be so damn inspiring.  Sure, they don’t inspire me to go to a Packers game or bother to learn the rules of basketball but they can make me swell with pride over the indomitable human spirit and its endless drive to compete, succeed, and do end-zone dancing.  Sadly, Million Dollar Arm isn’t that inspiring.

Even Aasif Mandvi is checking out Jon Hamm's awesomeness.

Someday, all jobs will be determined by a reality TV show
For the most part, this film (even though it is based on a true story) seems to follow the pattern of sports dramas to the very letter.  The drama, the characters, the unfolding plot all move in the exact sequence that you would predict it to move.  There are no real surprises here.  JB’s move from jerk go-getter businessman to compassionate area of support for the two pitchers is called from the moment the story gets going and the love story that feels completely tacked on (yes, I know it’s based on a true story and is there because it happened) all play out like it was some sort of Fill-in-the-Blanks sports drama script purchased from a script store and Disney just got a director and the actors needed.  This doesn’t necessarily make the film bad; it just makes it predictable and pretty cliché.  This does, however, make the drama and uplifting moments feel empty and devoid of any real punch.

He's dying to say that it's "Game Over" for Rinku and Dinesh's chances in Major
League Baseball.

He's about to do something sports related...look, I really
don't understand sports at all.
Aside from having a story that you can see coming a mile away, the film does have a tremendous cast.  Sure, all the characters are like the story and play out the way you expect them to but guys like Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, and Aasif Mandvi all do their jobs and don’t look like they are going through the motions.  Heck, even with all its formulaic glory, the film still has some very amusing scenes with the characters of Rinku, Dinesh, and an eager character who desperately wants to coach baseball and becomes JB’s basic apprentice named Amit (played by Pitobash).  The only thing I didn’t care for in the cast was Lake Bell as the love interest Brenda.  Bell plays every emotion, whether it is happiness, joy, sadness, or even irritation, exactly the same.  She doesn’t really have that strong of a screen presence and comes off so bland that I couldn’t quite figure out what the character of JB saw in her…other than the fact that the romance angle had to happen because it happened in the real life story.

I never thought I would say this but it might have been better to get rid of the Brenda
character and add more sports.

Million Dollar Arm isn’t the worst sports film I’ve seen but it’s far from the best.  A lot of drama and heart fall flat due to the predictable nature of the story and the fact that it is trying to oversell the drama and heart doesn’t help things.  However, the film still has its moments of fun and the cast is very enjoyable.  

"And now it disappeared..."

"I thought you were suppose to be pumping us up for this tryout?"

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