While Million Dollar Arm on the surface is about a sport's agent who recruits cricket players from India to be pitchers for the major leagues in America, it is a true story about the power of the spoken word to inspire. While it could be a sentimental film, it gets away with delicate transitions from life in India vs. life in the U.S. Indian music is a subtle thread and makes India a presence when the film journeys from Mumbai to L.A. Jon Hamm as JB plays his acerbic character well and is a bit of the curmudgeon straight out of Mad Men.
When Hamm journeys to Mumbai to recruit talented baseball players -- an idea he gets while watching the reality show Britain's Got Talent -- the Indian way of life is a jolt to his self-obsession. His irritation with the ways of the denizens of India is the early character Hamm portrays but slowly the Indian way of life softens him to learn to care more about others, but there is still room to grow. Alan Arkin lends his talents as a sports agent, Ray, and, as usual, steals his scenes. But it is the portrayal of life in India that steals this film. The first half of the film is shot in Mumbai in a less than glamorous almost documentary style. It caresses your soul.
These images are rarely seen and much needed in today's cinema. This footage is raw and wonderful. As I journeyed from India to Hollywood, I felt I was making the transition of true values to false values with JB. And for this reason this film is about more than baseball. Also JB's genuine caring for the players makes them winners. Without this caring they are doomed for failure. Alas this message is the home run hit in Million Dollar Arm, not at all about dollars, but sense. The Indian players Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal look incredibly like the baseball champions Rinku and Dinesh who were recruited from Mumbai in a kind of reality TV contest that searched for championship pitchers amidst cricket players. True to life Pittsburgh recruited these astonishing and charming players. This is a good film for all. Catch it if you can as you will not regret it.