Million Dollar Arm – Slumdogs Learn Baseball

I have mixed feelings about Million Dollar Arm, the new Disney film about two slumdogs (Indians) who make it into major league baseball in America.

The film claims to be based on a true story (of two Indian youngsters Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel who were picked in a contest in India, came and trained in Los Angeles and got picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates team).

If you ask me, the film looks like a “disneyized-true” version. 😉

Craig Gillespie directed Million Dollar Arm based on the screenplay by Thomas McCarthy.

There was a thin crowd, of about a dozen people at an East Coast theatre today, but they seemed to enjoy the film. The rain may have acted as a dampener since the mall and food court were also empty.

India – Color and Chaos

When down on his luck sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jonn Hamm) hears of cricket mania in India from his business partner and sees pictures of bowlers throwing balls at batsmen, he heads there hoping to find two cricket fans and train them into baseball pitchers in America.

It’s a desperate shot for JB and his business hangs on turning the Indian picks into baseball stars.

The early, India part of the film is done well, is very realistic and often funny.

I loved the color and chaos of Mumbai, the noise, the filth, the endless honking, the crowds, the bribing, the dogs on the road, the cows in the house, the barbers on the roadside, work that’s almost completed but never completed, children running helter-skelter and behind White people, the ugly trash and, of course, the Indian Standard Stretchable Time.

These are the essence of India and they’re beautifully captured in the film.

The writing is funny and had me repeatedly laughing.

Phony Bits

Once two youngsters Dinesh Patel (Madhur ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘ Mittal) and Rinku Singh (Suraj ‘Life of Pi‘ Sharma) are selected in a tough competition and JB and the boys leave the hurly-burly of India for the quiet suburbs of Los Angeles, the pace of the film slows down.

Alas, the movie also starts to go South.

The film has now turned into a kichdi, a gallimaufry of baseball training, cultural issues, JB’s romance with his tenant, JB’s business problems etc.

The movie starts to feel phony, particularly when you hear soppy stuff like JB needing to “show the kids that you care.”  You feel so let down since it all started so well.

For a film about baseball, you never really see the yearning passion of the two youngsters Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh for the game.

Between Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal, I’d say Suraj is shaping as a better actor. Madhur seemed too stiff.

Jon Hamm as the agent JB, Pitobash Tripathy as baseball fanatic Amit and Lake Bell as JB’s tenant Brenda Fenwick are good. Lake Bell looks adorable in a blue ghagra choli.

A.R.Rahman’s mediocre soundtrack is most definitely not going to send CD or digital sales shooting into the stratosphere.

Overall, I’d say Million Dollar Arm does not live up to the potential of the beginning but is not a total disaster either.

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