The Million Dollar Arm movie media preview was hosted by Walt Disney Studios in Beverly Hills this weekend.
The previews and limited information I had led me to believe the movie would be about the game of baseball and how sports agent JB Bernstein finds hidden talent in India. The movie is about all that but so much more. It is the story of how 2 young men with no knowledge of baseball, are signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates 10 months after touching a baseball for the first time. It is about the special relationship between JB and the boys and how “families” and strong bonds can develop and grow in unexpected circumstances. But most of all it is about the fact that the old fashioned traditions of hard work, commitment and support of your “family” will always be important in the quest for success.
Million Dollar Arm begins with JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) and his partner, Aash (Aasif Mandvi) rehearsing for a meeting with a top football player, they hope to sign. The deal falls through and short on money and with his career going downhill fast, JB comes up with the idea of a reality show competition called Million Dollar Arm. A competition where youngsters can come and try out with the hopes of willing a million dollar prize for the best pitcher. JB travels to India where the game of Cricket is the popular sport and few have ever played or even heard of Baseball. JB believes the next great pitching ace will be found in this untapped location. Along with retired baseball scout, Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin) who’s ability to recognize the speed of a pitch by sound, even half asleep, and Amit (Pitobash) a die-hard baseball fan who becomes JB’s right hand man and translator, the group travels throughout India. After a rocky start, JB finds two potential rookies. Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal – Slumdog Millionaire) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma – Life of PI), two 18 yr olds, who not only don’t know how to play baseball but have never ventured far from their village and family in India. They can however, throw an amazing pitch. During the competition finals, Rinku wins and along with Dinesh, is recruited by JB to come to the United States and try out for the pros.
After arriving in America and moving in with JB, the boys go through some hard times adjusting and learning about life in the US. As part of JB’s plans to make the boys into ball players, he recruits Tom House (Bill Paxton) a former big league pitcher turned coach. House uses his unique and somewhat strange coaching lessons to help the boys learn the sport. However, the lack of experience and techniques make teaching a challenge.
JB’s tenant, Brenda (Lake Bell) also plays a key role in helping the boys, develop the life skills necessary to survive the drastic changes they have experienced and helps JB realize the boys are not just an investment but have become family who must work together to succeed.
The original goal JB had was to take rookies with little or no baseball knowledge and prepare them for try outs with a profession team within one year. After disastrous try outs with most of the major league recruiters present, JB is able to set up one last chance with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The subsequent events that lead up to the movie’s successful ending is a true testament to the incredible skills, hard work and dedication not only by the 2 young men, but by all the supporting “family” members that become a part of their lives.
Don’t miss this incredible heartwarming movie, coming to theatres near you on May 16, 2014. Starring Jon Hamm, Assif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell and Alan Arkin. Produced by Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray and Joe Roth.