review – million dollar arm

Million_Dollar_Arm_poster

This movie has “my kind of movie” written all over it. It was directed by Craig Gillespie who directed one of my favorite movies in recent times, “Lars and the Real Girl.” It was written by Tom McCarthy, who also wrote (and directed) “The Visitor” and “The Station Agent,” as well as writing the story for “Up.” And it’s a based-on-a-true sports situation – recruiting the first two major league pitchers from India – with all the drama and excitement that are a natural part of stories like that. So, maybe the question is not: Was it a good movie? – but rather “Was it as good as I thought it just had to be?” The answer: Yeah. Sort of. In many ways it was as good as Gillespie and McCarthy – and their cast – could make it, given the predictable story they had to tell. It would have been slightly better if about a half hour was chopped from its two-hour running time because that would have taken out some of the repetition.

But overall, it’s entertaining and inoffensive. And, the best part has nothing to do with sports; it has to do with teaching you a bit about the culture of India. The writing is first rate; the direction is good; and the actors all find the right tone for their characters. As Dinesh and Rinku, the two young men at the center of this story give understated performances, full of awe for what they are seeing, afraid for what is expected of them. Hamm is good, Bell is every bit his equal. Pitobash – playing Amit – is the real fun here, but he’s never over the top. And the end credits feature lots of pictures of the real Dinesh and Rinku, JB and Brenda – and make the movie that much better because they bring the story back to reality. This is not a great movie, but it’s refreshing family entertainment.

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