Disney’s Million Dollar Arm is the story of a morally dependable agent (JB) who pays for the consequences of being honorable and having a consciousness in the world of sports agencies is a swing and a miss. Abandoned by his clients and romantic interests, JB goes to India in hopes of discovering new talent and himself.
The film is a disappointing leading man debut for Mad Men star Jon Hamm. His performance or acting ability is not in question, it is only the story did not grant him a lot to work with. Although, playing a likable and kid friendly character is a good career choice for Hamm, who is in danger like all actors with prominent roles in great long lasting television, of becoming type cast. Million Dollar Arm, despite being a swing and a miss, displays that Hamm does have a wide acting range. Which is apt considering his hilarious guest star appearances on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. Both of which he plays emotional polar opposites of his Mad Men role Don Draper. If only Million Dollar Arm served him a more complex unpredictable role, judging from his body of work he would have hit it out of the park.
The plot and story of the film was where Million Dollar Arm truly fell flat. Based on the true story about two Indian pitchers who get discovered and signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, it has all the makings for a feel good family-friendly movie. Unfortunately, the film strives for that to such an extent it becomes dull and predictable. It doesn’t demand much of the audience. It follows the same pattern of thousands of mediocre feel good redemption flicks. The hero loses everything, is desperate and tries something new, it pays off, fun times with new found love and/friendship, obligatory breakup and estrangement from those he loves, realization about “what really matters,” and they all get back together. Now some of the best films ever made follow that pattern, however they don’t reveal the skeleton of their work so plainly.
The film is also a disappointment to indie film fans. Who’s writer Tom McCarthy wrote the fine artistic films Win-Win and The Visitor. Both being very deep, complex, and engaging. Million Dollar Arm is the opposite. The director of the film, Craig Gillespie, was a notable independent filmmaker; directing the strange but utterly delightful Lars and the Real Girl. The blame cannot -confidently- be put on the film’s creators. Only because it is -unfortunately- very common for film studios to take a great script and remove the elements that make it so, in an attempt to make the film more appealing to a wider audience. Usually with predictable inoffensive family movies, it is apt to place the blame on the viewer: who failed to realize that the film was not meant for mature adults without children. But the marketing campaign for this film promised an emotional mature story.
Million Dollar Arm is a gelded Jerry Maguire. It’s eclectic and diverse cast could not distract from the film’s painfully simplistic story. It strives to be the next Slumdog Millionaire but it lacks emotional and character depth. That is why this baseball film, Million Dollar Arm, is a definite swing and a miss.
Opinion By Andres Loubriel