Million Dollar Arm Parent Review
Whether or not you're a baseball fan, "Million Dollar Arm" tells a great story with characters that make significant improvements -- and we're not just talking on the pitching mound.
J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) can’t help but worry. Despite his bravado in the office, he has to admit he and his business partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) are living on the edge with no hope of saving their fledgling company. No hope that is unless they find a new athlete they can act as an agent for. (The real Bernstein represented Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Barry Bonds among others.) Unfortunately with players expecting big bonuses and hefty contracts, J.B. and Aash have a hard time getting anyone to sign with them.
However after seeing Susan Boyle’s appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, J.B. gets an idea. He proposes an unconventional contest of his own and arranges to take a baseball scout, a camera crew and all the equipment he needs to host a pitching competition in India. His intent is to find a cricket player that he can train to throw for a Major League Baseball franchise. Not surprisingly Mr. Chang (Tzi Ma), the man funding the contest, is skeptical. But he can’t afford to forgo on what may be the next big fan base to open up in the history of baseball.
With a tight time schedule working against him and an elderly baseball scout (Alan Arkin) that appears to sleep through the tryouts, J.B. hits the road, papering every town they stop in with flyers for the Million Dollar Arm contest.
True to the predictions of the naysayers, cricket players can’t pitch a baseball. But luckily J.B. stumbles upon a couple of javelin throwers, Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Denish Patel (Madhur Mittal), who can throw with remarkable speed even though they’ve never even seen a baseball before. After pronouncing the winners of the contest, J.B. and his team pack up the lucky lads and head back home to America. Thinking of the boys as little more than the source of his next paycheck, J.B. plunks the two impoverished teens and Amit (Pitobash), who serves as their interpreter, in the middle of a world they could have never imagined. Then he virtually ignores them after handing them over to coach Tom House (Bill Paxton) while he wines and dines other prospective contracts.
Unable to speak the language, forced to eat unfamiliar food night after night and suffering from terrible homesickness, the youths flounder in spite of their efforts to work hard for Coach House. It’s J.B.‘s tenant Brenda (Lake Bell) who finally steps in to pinch-hit for the errant J.B.
Whether or not you are a baseball fan, Million Dollar Arm tells a great story with characters that make some significant improvements over the course of time—and we’re not just talking on the pitching mound. Caught up in the glitz and glam of single life in a high stakes career, J.B. isn’t always likeable, especially when he treats Rinku and Denish as investments rather than human beings. Fortunately he raises his batting average in that department with some sideline coaching from Brenda.
The film contains a smattering of profanities, brief sexual comments and the depiction of alcohol use, including a couple of characters who inadvertently get drunk and then throw up. Yet the movie’s bigger problem may be J.B.‘s attitude toward women and some implied sexual activity. Fortunately that side story takes a back seat to the transformation of these young men, who go from hurling javelins to tossing curveballs with their million dollar arms.Directed by Craig Gillespie. Starring Lake Bell, Jon Hamm, Bill Paxton, Alan Arkin. Running time: 124 minutes. Theatrical release May 16, 2014. Updated May 23, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Million Dollar Arm here.
Million Dollar Arm Parents Guide
How does J.B.‘s attitude toward the boys change when begins investing himself in their success rather than just thinking of them as a financial investment? What kind of responsibility should J.B. take for the boys after removing them from their homes?
What cultural differences do the boys experience when they arrive in America? How difficult would it be land in a country where you can’t speak the language? Despite the many luxuries people enjoy in North America, is life always better here? What good things do the boys have to leave behind?
What is J.B.‘s attitude toward women? Why is he not interested in Brenda? Why does his perspective change? Why is he upset about having to give up the convenience of his single life?
This movie is based on a true story. The real JB Bernstein created a reality TV contest in India called The Million Dollar Arm. Participants were offered a cash prize plus an opportunity to train in America and then try out as a pitcher for a Major League Baseball team. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar Patel won the contest in 2008 and later went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates.