Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Million Dollar Arm (PG/2 hours)

Disney hit one out of the park with the new movie Million Dollar Arm; the story of J. B. Bernstein, the sports marketing professional who went to India in search of cricket bowlers who could be trained to be baseball pitchers and signed with a Major League team. The winner in the India competition won $100,000 US and the runner-up won $10,000 US. They both then were flown to the US where one of them would eventually win $1Million US. At least that’s what we were led to believe. I don’t recall any mention of this after they left India.

If I could change one thing about this movie it would be how blatantly predictable it is. They made it very evident which two young men were going to America. We knew how things would end up for J.B. and who would direct him to make the changes he needed to make. Granted, this is somewhat based on a true story but I’d never heard of it so they really shouldn’t assume that we already know what’s going to happen. If you don’t know the story, try to ignore the fact that the ending is pretty much guessable and just let it all unfold.

Despite knowing who was going to win the competition in India, I was glad they showed a little of the personal background of both young men. One had a big family who lived in a teensy tinesy house. The other helped his dad after he was injured. The dad. Not the young man. And even though they were competing against each other and a very large sum of money was on the line they showed good sportsmanship. Their families’ response to their leaving was another testament to the character of these men. It was hard for me to see them leave and I was just watching the movie.

Then! They got to America! Talk about culture shock! I lived in England and then Belgium for a few years but I had a familiar-to-me community to fall back on. I can’t imagine how daunting it must have been to have never left home before and suddenly move to another country, leaving your family and basic support group behind. I get that a lot of people do this very thing but usually it’s planned on their part. Or maybe more time elapsed than the movie let on.

I’m reluctant to talk about the movie itself too much more since there’s a good chance I’ll give away more than I intended. I think the acting was well done. I was so caught up in the movie that I didn’t consider where I’d seen the two young men from India before. One was Pi in Life of Pi. Another was in Slumdog Millionaire. So, now you won’t have to wonder. You’re welcome.

Believe it or not, this movie is rated PG. Betcha didn’t think they made those any more. The breakdown is fairly simple. No sex or nudity. The language, though completely unnecessary, was limited to a couple of non-religious references to God (as in “Oh my God”) and one Hell. That’s it. Alcohol was consumed. I can’t remember if there was any smoking. Sorry. There was no violence and the only stomach-turning thing that happened was in direct correlation to alcohol consumption and overeating.

If you like baseball movies, I highly recommend Million Dollar Arm. If you like underdog-type movies, same goes. This is the second movie in a row that I called my mom afterwards and told her to go see. Once again, it’s sport related so that’ll make her want to see it but I know that she would enjoy everything else about it too. There were a lot of young kids at this showing and, except for the ones that sat next to us, they seemed to enjoy it. The ones next to us had ants in their pants so they weren’t still long enough to like or dislike it. Nothing happens after the credits but they do show pictures and video during all of it so you may want to stick around for that.