This had a lot of potential – the true story of baseball coaches and sales reps starting a reality TV talent competition, the eponymous ‘The Million Dollar Arm’ tryouts, in India in 2008 to find two cricket players that could potentially make the transition into playing for a major league baseball team in the States. It was the brainchild of main character J. B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) largely borne out of struggling finances as he fails to sign anyone of any significance to his sports management firm. Unfortunately, it feels too much like a Sunday afternoon live action Disney film with a far, far too traditional character arc for Bernstein (actually, this is a live action Disney film, maybe it’s about time they updated their formula … ), he will put money first but then realise what’s in front of him with regard to his friends, the hot girl next door, and the youngsters he takes from India back to America, before putting money first again and giving everyone else a hard time, promptly getting slapped around by the aforementioned, once more forced to acknowledge what really matters at heart etc. etc.
Nothing that happens as this see-saw continues is particularly interesting, and attempted comedic moments with the likes of grumpy baseball scout Alan Arkin never really work as intended. It’s yet another hopelessly contrived drama based on a real story that, if given the few base facts required, you could probably storyboard yourself in ten minutes and do a better job, and it likely would have worked much better as a documentary given the wealth of primary footage they must have had at their disposal. The acting is fine but essentially fits the entirely humdrum nature of the whole shebang, with support from Lake Bell, Bill Paxton, Aasif Mandvi and Madhur Mittal (‘Slumdog Millionaire’ 08) and Suraj Sharma (‘Life of Pi’) as the two potential superstars Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh respectively (neither of whom, ironically, like cricket). We don’t even get to see the pair actually play any games of baseball, it just concentrates on them learning to throw the ball the whole time and whether or not they can do it fast and accurately enough – probably not particularly exciting to do, never mind sit and watch.