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Published On: Fri, May 16th, 2014

‘Million Dollar Arm’ Movie Review: A feel-good film that touches your heart

Most sports films follow the same basic flow: a team or player starts out well, is then surprisingly faced with some challenge or tragedy, and eventually comes back from adversity to make a big win. You really don’t even need to be a sports fan to enjoy this basic movie formula, right? But when you see the words “based on a true story” at the beginning, it puts a more heart-wrenching spin on the entire movie-watching experience. That’s the case with Million Dollar Arm.

MILLION DOLLAR ARMOn the surface, it appears to be a story about J.B. Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm), an agent who has gone out on his own and is watching his entrepreneurial venture slowly crash and burn when he comes up with the idea to explore India in search of a major league baseball player. To drum up publicity, he makes it into a contest and calls it the Million Dollar Arm.

The film starts out showing us what a challenge it was to orchestrate this search across India where cricket is the national past time, not baseball. The travel, the cultural differences, the food…. everything is another hurdle to overcome in this search for a ball player… his last shot at saving his career.

Of course, he eventually finds a couple of players, Rinku and Dinesh, that blow him away with their potential and are selected to return to the US and train in preparation for MLB tryouts. But that’s where the story starts to reveal the true point of the film. It’s not about JB… it’s not about saving his career… it’s about those young men and the fact that plucking them from their homes and challenging them with such a monumental task in a completely foreign environment requires more than just coaching. It requires parenting.

Did I forget to mention that JB is a middle-aged single man living a lifestyle which allows him to indulge in driving sports cars and dating models only?

Through a series of events (some cute, some funny, and some are just down-right sad), the dashing JB is faced with the reality that he has to grow up and be a “parent” to Rinku and Dinesh in order to help them succeed. Committing himself to this not only leads to a transformation in his personal life, but in his professional life as well when the players eventually succeed and are signed with the Pirates.

And it’s a true story!!!!

So, who should see this understated film? Any child, parent, teacher, coach, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew……you must have fallen into at least one of those categories. You’ll walk out wondering how you were unaware of the Million Dollar Arm contest when it happened, what happened to Rinku and Dinesh afterwards, and what kind of change can I make in someone’s life if I just stop long enough to care and truly invest in someone besides myself. Kids will walk out thinking that maybe than can move mountains if they believe in themselves like their parents and teachers do. Everyone will walk out feeling inspired to not give up regardless of the challenges that may lie between you and your goals.

Basically, it’s a feel-good film that everyone can enjoy. There is no award-winning performance, special effects or set design. But sometimes, it’s just about enjoying a good movie and not looking for anything to knock you off your feet. Sometimes it just needs to touch your heart to make you want others to see it as well.

Overall: Million Dollar Arm receives 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Guest Reviewer: Debbie Picallo Sage

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- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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