Million Dollar Arm Blu-ray Review
“Based on a true story” is always a cringe worthy line in today’s movies. I take the theatrical truth with a grain of salt and would prefer to read the novelization that inspired it or I’ll simply take the shortcut, and put more faith in the Wikipedia summary. A movie that begins with that dreaded phrase needs something else going for it and luckily MILLION DOLLAR ARM has enough small pros to overcome a dry premise.
Jon Hamm is known for his role as Don Draper on MAD MEN. Here, he drops the more loathsome qualities from Draper to become J.B. Bernstein. J.B. is a smooth talking go-getter, running a sports firm that’s on the verge of financial collapse and Hamm plays the cynicism of J.B. to a ‘T’. A game of cricket and the wishful thinking of a contest inspires J.B. to head to India and put on a competition called the “Million Dollar Arm”. The person who can throw the fastest pitch will get to come back to the states with J.B. and have a chance at going pro.
Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal play Rinku and Dinesh, the two young men “lucky” enough to win the competition. There’s an understandable fear that a movie like this might cheapen the culture of our two hopeful athletes by poking fun at the kooky cultural misconceptions of two young Indian guys in the states, but it avoids these pitfalls. It draws sympathy from the audience by showing them as two men attempting to retain their lifestyle amongst the American temptations of spiked punch, greasy pizza and pop culture.
MILLION DOLLAR ARM is far from pitching a perfect game though. The first hour flies by, but that’s because of the drowsy charm of an elderly league scout by the name of Ray (Arkin) J.B.’s stressed out partner Ash (Mandvi) and the sights and sounds of India. The second half is a bit choppy, despite the boosted prevalence of a love interest for J.B., played by the talented and lovely Lake Bell. MILLION DOLLAR ARM eventually falls back on the biographical sports movie clichés of all hope is lost followed by the miraculous moment that saves the day.
It’s really hard to dislike a movie that’s constantly grinning and handing you reason after reason to be warmed up by its abundance of heart. Rinku and Dinesh are two men who aren’t necessarily naïve, but appear to take the high road. The movie could definitely benefit from focusing on the more human side of them leaving their family and friends to aspire to something greater and cut more of the “fish out of water” scenes.
It’s an all too familiar story; an unknown underdog rises to the occasion and warms the cockles of our beating heart. If you’ve seen movies like THE ROOKIE, RUDY or WE ARE MARSHALL, then you’ve pretty much seen MILLION DOLLAR ARM. It’s formulaic, but a family crowd pleaser nonetheless. MILLION DOLLAR ARM is an enjoyable experience, but ultimately forgettable.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) The presentation is fantastic. The image sharpness allows us to see the sprawling slums of India with clarity and gives us an outstanding view of the dull contemporary housing that J.B. sleeps in.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound is a smooth blend of city ambiance, busy foreign streets and the inspiring sports soundtrack.
Training Camp (6:18): Like an action star who needs a stunt coordinators, our two Indian leads need a pitching coach. I shouldn’t be too surprised that they would have to actually try and somewhat resemble a real baseball player. It’s interesting for baseball fans, but too long for the casual viewers.
Their Story (2:54): The real J.B., Rinku and Dinesh, give us a quick talk about what the movie and what they did means to them. Wholesome, short, and to the point.
Million Dollar Music by A.R. Rahman (2:34): It’s not the strongest or most memorable soundtrack. So this is the most uninteresting feature on this Blu-ray, but even if you’re a movie music aficionado, you’ll find it too lacking in any information.
Deleted Scenes (2:28): You can play these all at the same time or separately. Like any batch of deleted scenes, it’s understandable why these were eventually removed from the final product.
Alternate Ending (00:49): Not an alternate ending, but more like an extra minute added to the movie that feels too hokey, even for this movie.
Outtakes (2:04): Who doesn’t enjoy some silly outtakes? If you’re looking for a quick, cheap laugh, this is your ticket.