2014 / Director. Craig Gillespie.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
The Walt Disney Corporation has a whole variety of departments and my favourite amongst them is Walt Disney Pictures. As well as releasing their big money earner films like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and THE LONE RANGER they also invest in a lot of films which are more subversive and far less viable. Some examples have been EIGHT BELOW, A STRAIGHT STORY and THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN. And then they also have a tradition of producing true story sports dramas. Examples of these are REMEMBER THE TITANS, MIRACLE, GLORY ROAD, SECRETARIAT and INVINCIBLE. While these particular films are often generic and adhere to a formula they are also well made and legitimately good. The latest, and possibly the best, of their sports films is MILLION DOLLAR ARM starring John Hamm. It tells the story of a struggling sports agent who desperately seeks a client to keep his business afloat. While watching late night television during a moment of depression he switches channels between international cricket and Britain's Got Talent. With major league sports teams all recruiting players from foreign countries he comes up with a crazy idea to exploit one of the only untapped markets left in the world, India. He spends three months travelling the country, hosting a competition called The Million Dollar Arm in hopes of transforming cricket bowlers into professional baseball pitchers. Risking his career and personal finances he puts everything on the line and brings two young boys back to Los Angeles with a narrow deadline of 12 months to have them turned into major draft contenders. Like most of Disney's sports dramas MILLION DOLLAR ARM is based on a true story. It follows a less traditional formula to most of the previous films and takes more chances with it's narrative. I was impressed to see a lot of the Indian dialogue subtitled and great attention given to the Indian culture and way of life. John Hamm handles the story wonderfully and delivers a sincere and eclectic performance. His supporting cast is also excellent with Bill Paxton and Alan Arkin giving solid and committed turns. The film is slightly too long and overstays its welcome by about 15-20 minutes, however, the lagging components to the story are in the centre and don't have any affect on the final act being entirely satisfying. We are also treated to some actual real life footage and photographs of the characters, which solidify the story and make its conventions very palatable. It is a family film what will appeal to adults more-so than kids... but that should not stop parents from putting their kids to the challenge. Wonderful stuff.