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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Movie Review: Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm debuted in American theaters on May 16, 2014.  This is the latest sports movie made by Disney, the studio that has brought us a long list of family-friendly sports films.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am predisposed to like any any project that involves both Jon Hamm and the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons.  It was with that perspective that I headed to the theater this week.

Million Dollar Arm is based on a true story about a down-and-out sports agent, played by Hamm, who tries to save his business by putting on desperate and gimmicky contest to find a baseball pitcher in India.  It is true that most great sports movies are not really about the sport but about a greater cultural experience viewed through the lens of sport.  Chariots of Fire is about religion and commitment.  Hoosiers is about second chances and redemption.  Remember the Titans is about race and family.  Unlike those films, however, Million Dollar Arm is barely about sport at all.

That being said, Million Dollar Arm is a pleasant and entertaining viewing experience.  There are a lot of amusing and touching cultural juxtapositions as American baseball men visit India and as Indian boys from rural provinces are dropped in the heart of Los Angeles.  In both settings, the performances turned in by Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal, the two Indian pitchers, are delightful and enjoyable.  Positive, if not particularly deep, messages about the importance of valuing people more than money are delivered throughout the film.

All in all, I applaud Disney for spending the money to make and promote a positive, family movie that promotes solid values, and I had a pleasant time at this movie.  Million Dollar Arm is not in the category of other similar Disney films like Miracle, The Rookie or Invincible, but it is worth taking the family to see.

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