Saturday, 21 June 2014

Film Review: "Million Dollar Arm" (2014).

"Now small boys all over Indiacan do what I couldn't. They can dream." Which is what Million Dollar Arm is all about. This American biographical sports drama film directed by Craig Gillespie from a screenplay written by Tom McCarthy. The film is based on the true story of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel who were unconventionally recruited by sports agent, J.B. Bernstein, after winning a reality show competition to play for Major League Baseball.

In 2008, television sports producers and brothers Neil and Michael Mandt began, supposedly, documented the training and tryouts that Singh and Patel undergone at the USC campus. Using original footage they had shot and created a nine-minute trailer as a presentation piece for a projected movie about the two players. In December 2008, the Mandts began a collaboration with producers Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray and Joe Roth. In early 2009, the screen rights to Singh and Patel's life story were purchased by Sony Pictures Entertainment for development at Columbia Pictures, which hired Mitch Glazer to write a screenplay. However, the project was eventually put in turnaround and in 2010, producers Roth and Ciardi set the film up at Walt Disney Pictures. Upon acquiring the film, Disney hired Tom McCarthy to write a script. In May 2012, Jon Hamm was cast to play Bernstein. Alan Arkin and Suraj Sharma were cast in April 2013, with Allyn Rachel joining the cast the following month. Principal photography began on May 30, 2013 with filming taking place in Mumbai, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

The film stars Jon Hamm as Bernstein, Bill Paxton as pitching coach Tom House, Suraj Sharma as Singh, Madhur Mittal as Patel, and Alan Arkin. The cast in the film gave great performances, especially Hamm. If you love Hamm from Mad Men, then you'll probably love him in this. He is surprisingly good, delivering a likeness to the real J. B. Bernstein that is uncanny. As well as Sharma and Mittal, who played Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who gave fine performances. Their performances, along with Hamm’s, guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness.

It may not break new ground, but Million Dollar Arm is somewhat an entertaining film, awash in clichés but leavened by the charismatic performance of Jon Hamm as J. B. Bernstein. When it's good it's good. When it's bad - well, it's bad. It may seem that the film takes too long to get to the baseball. But by the time it does get down to it, we've just barely invested enough in Hamm, Sharma and Mittal to give a damn about the outcome of the all-important Big Show. Though familiar and clichéd it may be, the film succeeds in spite of itself. The film is a Walter Mitty tale, but a true one, a fantasy come to life. The latest in Disney's line of films about real-life sports figures never settles for easy answers. It is a well-made studio effort that, like The Rookie (2004) of a few years back, has the knack of being moving without shamelessly overdoing a sure thing.

Simon says Million Dollar Arm receives:

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