Life. It’s comprised of a series of events that, in a sense, define who we are. Our reactions, decisions, and feelings make up our perspective of those events. Now, imagine if Disney takes that perspective, flips it upside down, and contorts it into the shape that fits the Disney image. That’s the case any time the multimedia giant produces content inspired by a true story. It’s all subjective. Hence is the case with Craig Gillespie’s Million Dollar Arm.
The film stars Mad Men star Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Life of Pi star Suraj Sharma, and many more. The story revolves around failing sports agent JB (Hamm), as he sets out to land a big client, or his career is over. Typical David vs. Goliath theme that Disney employs quite often in its motion pictures. It’s not a bad story line, if one is trying to label the quality of the film. JB takes one last shot at being a big-time sports agent. He comes across the sport of cricket in thoughts of training two cricket bowlers into becoming major league baseball pitchers. As his plan is set in motion, he travels to India to find these athletes through a series of tryouts all across the nation. He finds the hopeful answer to his prayers in Rinku(Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh(Madhur Mittal). The story shifts to a battle against the clock as JB preps them for their big debut, and the fate of his career lies in their gloves.
The film had its ups throughout its duration. It also had its downs. It appears that Disney has this specific formula they must fill in order to satisfy their own agenda. The pluses of the film included Alan Arkin’s performance, and the score of the film. The Indian-pop mix that drove the score in fact drove the film more than the conflict did.
I wouldn’t call them negatives, but the drawbacks to the film weren’t what Disney failed at doing, but rather what they didn’t do. The amount of time the film takes place in India is short lived, and doesn’t add much of a character in a country filled with culture. The relationship between JB and his subletter Brenda (Lake Bell) was artificial at best, but her character was well developed. It appears that Disney was attempting to make a spectacle of this film, but they neglected development of the character of the Indian boys, JB, and even the sport of baseball. The audience will find it difficult to relate to JB, as we don’t even garner a glimpse at why this profession, these boys, or sports in general is important to him. We’re only aware that he is some jerk sports agent who is going through a mid-life crisis.
In the end, the audience won’t feel cheated if they watch the film. Their money won’t be misspent. However, if they’re looking for a successful follow-up to Frozen then they will be let down. Disney will always be Disney, which I can’t determine if that’s a good or bad thing yet. I’ll keep you updated.
Million Dollar Arm is now playing in Philly theaters.