With Million Dollar Arm, Hollywood reaches out to a wider audience. The true-life story of JB Bernstein has Jon Hamm playing the lead in what has been described as “an underdog tale”.
Looking to expand the American sports-entertainment imprint this baseball story reaches out to the world, but particularly to South Asia with an Indian hero.
The legend begins with Bernstein’s odyssey to India with a baseball scout (Alan Arkin) to find Rinku (Life of Pi’s Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Sulmdog Millionaire’s Madhur Mittal) who know next to nothing about India’s most popular game, cricket, leave alone American baseball
USC coach Tom House (Bill Paxton) takes the responsibility of training the two and the film is equally about the training and the alienation and loneliness the two feel in a foreign country.
“The India scenes give Million Dollar Arm a hearty dose of visual and narrative energy’” writes a renowned scribe in a popular journal, with India’s famed AR Rahman heading the music score and much of the dialogue in Hindi.
The country is shown for what it is: traffic jams, stomach-upsetting cuisine (to the western palate), poor sanitary conditions, and unflappable locals who throw their hands in the air to say, “Here in India, we do things a little differently”
“Credit a rock solid turn by lead Jon Hamm that doesn’t shy away from revealing a darker underbelly to his underdog character, as well as a keenly-observed script by Tom McCarthy and deft direction by Craig Gillespie for the rewarding changeup,” writes Michael Rechtshaffe of Hollywood Reporter.
In similar vein Alonso Duralde of The Wrap lavishes praise on the Indian cast members. “Sharma and Mittal don’t even speak English until well into the film, but their wide-eyed innocence plays effectively, as does Pitobash Tripathy’s combination of enthusiasm and bewilderment” he writes
And in the end most film critics are forced to conclude that with Million Dollar Arm Disney has produced another winner.