Madhur Mittal as Dinesh Patel and Suraj Sharma as Rinku Singh in Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm”
Million Dollar Arm is Disney’s second film after parting ways with mega producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Saving Mr. banks was its first successful feature, but its second effort; a tale about two boys handpicked America Idol style from India has failed to find an audience. This isn’t great news for the mouse house, but isn’t terrible either. Million Dollar Arm cost twenty-five million to make and it received ten back in total box office for its opening weekend. Like any other Disney release it’s a lighthearted film littered with comedy while still making you feel good about yourself as you leave the theatre. It’s also based on a true story.
Sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) has failed to sign a big star for his new agency even after rehearsing his “why you should sign with us” pitch to a popular baseball star named Popo (Rey Maualuga). His partner Ash (Aasif Mandvi) tells him what they need to do, despite the fact that have no one signed and little to no money. So out of desperation and after an argument about how cricket is a terrible sport, JB gets a grand idea. Go to India and find a couple of nobodies that can throw a baseball eighty miles an hour. The winners would receive 100 grand and potentially a million dollars. It’s a crazy plan, but it must work or JB and Ash will find themselves looking for new careers. Oddly enough they find a backer in Will Chang (Tzi Ma), an executive from the San Francisco Giants. However, instead of the two years given it would’ve taken to fully train the chosen players in the sport and bring them to a professional tryout, JB and Ash are given one year. A time frame that pitching Guru Tom House (Bill Paxton) says is impossible to work with.
Despite the odds against them House agrees to train the players and JB heads to India to find his prized cricket players, once there he is culture shocked to find that Indians like to bypass everything including their own government. So setting up his contest turns into a logistical nightmare. JB is also in need of a scout and Ash sends him Ray (Alan Arkin), a retired scout that can spot talent and determines the speed of a traveling baseball by sound. With tryouts finally under way JB fails to find anyone that can even throw the ball above forty miles an hour. It’s weeks and even days before they spot anyone, but one trip to Mumbai is all takes because here JB strikes gold. He finds his contest winning pitchers in Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh Patel (MadHur Mitael). Both win the contest and win trips back with JB to continue their pursuit of becoming professional Baseball players. However, life in America is different for the players and they struggle to learn the sport. JB also finds himself struggling to live with Dinesh and Rinku, while starting a new relationship with his Doctor Tennant Brenda (Lake Bell).
Million Dollar Arm is everything one can expect from a Disney title. Its fun, fast paced, and comes with a story worthy of caring about. The problem is it ultimately doesn’t connect with its target audience, but is also family orientated which may have been the reason why it met Disney’s base expectations for the film. Some things may have been changed for dramatic effect, but its still overall a film worth viewing or taking the kids to see instead of another superhero film.