Film review: Million Dollar Arm (4 out of 5)

Jon Hamm is in Million Dollar Arm
Jon Hamm is in Million Dollar Arm

It must have been an interesting pitch to the people of Disney.

We have a film that starts off featuring cricket, a sport that most Americans don’t understand or like. Then we move to baseball, a sport that many Europeans don’t understand or like.

A recipe for disaster?

Certainly not, as this isn’t really a movie about sport, it’s about pursuing your dream and discovering that life is about people, not possessions.

Based on a true story, we are introduced to JB, played by Jon Hamm. He and his team are living on past successes.

JB has a beautiful home, a posh sports car, classy suits - but no clients.

So, in a moment of inspiration while flicking TV channels between Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent and India playing a cricket one-day international, he comes up with a cunning plan.

This involves going to India in the search for potential baseball pitchers by running a competition among keen cricketers called Million Dollar Arm.

But while the scheme could be a financial lifesaver for JB, it’s a complete life-changing experience for the young Indian hopefuls.

It’s good to see Hamm get a good meaty role after so much promise on the small screen and he comes up trumps.

The two main Indian roles are played by Suraj Sharma (Pi in Life of Pi) and Madhur Mittal (supporting role in Slumdog Millionaire).

Both of them, plus Pitobash as JB’s translator Amit are excellent.

There’s also fine performances from old hands Alan Arkin and Bill Paxton as a baseball scout and trainer respectively.

Throw in Lake Bell as JB’s neighbour and love interest and you have a solid cast.

Director Craig Gillespie has a good gentle touch with this film that could so easily have fallen into the realms of melodrama.

The humour and the fact you end up caring about the characters make it very entertaining.

It won’t win any Oscars but it will win plenty of praise.

Film details: Million Dollar Arm (PG) 124mins

Director: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol