the wonderful world of veena.

20 May 2014

movie review: million dollar arm.

This was pretty much the perfect movie for me. Two hours of Jon Hamm, baseball, and cameos of India and cricket? Sign me up.

So back in circa 2008, this whole "Million Dollar Arm" was a real challenge. And apparently it's still a thing. And somehow, despite living in India at the time, I completely missed that it happened. Didn't see it on the news, didn't read about it online, didn't hear anything about it. But I guess enough other people heard about it, because it seems to have been a success. The NY Post did a pretty good recap of the original story, if you're interested.

The film that released last Friday tells the story of the down-on-his luck sports agent, JB Bernstein as played by Jon Hamm, who decides to find a way to get in on the ground floor of the last great untapped sports market - India. Prior to this challenge, no Indian had signed any kind of athletic contract with a North American sports club, and with cricket as the main sport of choice throughout the country, it still isn't likely that it will happen again too often in the coming years.

JB convinces an investor to support a talent competition with the following premise: JB will spend a few months traveling around India, holding auditions for cricket players to try their hand at baseball and the chance to win $1 million. For the thousands of boys who showed up for the auditions, a million dollars is unheard of; many of them hailed from small villages with no running water or electricity in their homes, so a sum of this magnitude was probably more than they could even fathom.

Ultimately two boys, Rinku and Dinesh, win the competition in India [along with $100,000 for Rinku and $10,000 for Dinesh, still pretty large sums] and travel back to LA with JB. Used to living alone in his bachelor pad and wooing supermodels, JB suddenly has to get used to sharing his home and his life with three young Indian men [Rinku and Dinesh along with Amit, their translator] who speak little-to-no English and have never been outside of India before.

Over the course of the movie we see how JB's character changes: he starts out as a desperate agent on his last legs, becomes more human during his time in India, goes back to being a money-hungry agent when a potentially big client comes knocking, and ultimately finds his redemption in his relationship with the players and with Brenda, his neighbour [played wonderfully by Lake Bell. I've loved seeing her around so much the last few years].

Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a Disney movie, and you get glimpses of that throughout. You start out mostly knowing how the whole thing is going to arc, but it's still a pretty entertaining ride. As is my opinion on most movies these days, it was about 20 minutes too long, but that could stem more from my inability to sit still for long periods of time than from anything else. And from reading the Post article as well as a few things on Wikipedia, I keep thinking they switched up the stories of the two boys in the movie. Can anyone back me up on that? Regardless, it's a good movie, and I think you'll like it if you see it.

And if you do decide to watch it, yes, Rinku is the kid from Life of Pi, and Dinesh is the friend from Slumdog Millionaire. I spent almost the entirety of the movie trying to figure out where I had seen each of them, so now you don't have to. You're welcome.

Also, if you've ever been to India, you'll have a few laughs at some of the little nuances and subtle jokes they throw in there. There were a few bits where I was definitely the only person in the theater laughing, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Now go forth and watch Million Dollar Arm. It's definitely worth a viewing.

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