FlixChatter Review: Million Dollar Arm (2014)



We all know Disney is capable of creating compelling stories, and Million Dollar Arm is no exception. While some may prematurely write this off as just another sports flick, they’d be missing the opportunity to see a fun, light-hearted film. Million Dollar Arm is based on a true story about two young Indian teenagers who were plucked from obscurity and thrown in to the sports spotlight.

JB (Jon Hamm) is a sports agent who once was mingling in the upper echelons of athletic society but now is struggling to sign clients and make ends meet. After losing out on a deal that would save his lifestyle and business, JB is offered a Hail Mary. Flipping between the channels, “Britain’s Got Talent” and a game of cricket catches JB’s eye. (Fun fact, the footage of BGT is of Susan Boyle’s iconic rendition of I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables.) JB, initially prejudiced against the game, is flabbergasted by the bowler’s speed, even if the form is a little nontraditional. After a creative stroke of genius and with the help of an investor, Hamm strikes a deal to run a talent contest in India. The two most promising candidates will not only have the chance to win $1,000,000 but also come to America, in order to be groomed for a professional baseball tryout. Hence the name: Million Dollar Arm.

As I said, the film is primarily light-hearted, but it also touches on the poverty in India. It doesn’t do a deep dive by any means, but goes from one sweep of the Taj Mahal and wider shots to show the disparaging shacks and murky communal waters. With that said, I was thrilled the film didn’t go in the opposite direction by showing uber cheesy Bollywood stereotypes. The brief glimpses we do see of India, gives a good sense of what the culture and people are actually like. Some parts are quite humorous (“we never bribe in India, we just pay money to bypass the system”) and others are very emotionally charged. The village, where the two boys are from, has what appears to be a religious dedication/blessing ceremony. We see traditional dancing, Hindu marking and the fact that it literally takes the entire village to properly see them on their way. These themes are carried throughout the entire film.


The two young boys, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) captured my heart. On one hand they were typical teenage boys interested in the goings on of the girl next door, but on the other hand showed maturity well beyond their years. These boys were thrown into something so far beyond their comfort level and experience, but they handled the pressure with grace. Another fun fact, we learn neither one of them like cricket and had never thrown a baseball in their entire lives!

I absolutely loved Brenda (Lake Bell), and thought she offered the perfect mix of comedic relief and concerned mother. She actually befriends the boys and learns about their struggles with not only learning American customs but also trying to perfect the techniques of baseball in only a few months’ time. We see her participating in yoga sessions and offering late night/early morning advice (she’s a night-time RN). Brenda is the moral compass of the film, while the boys are the heart and soul.

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Jon Hamm; however, I do enjoy Mad Men. I felt like his portrayal was too similar to Don Draper, and found his performance a bit distracting to watch on screen. I think someone like Aaron Eckhart may have been better suited for the role. Eckhart has proven he can play the suave jackal and redeeming father figure (think Thank You For Smoking). With that said, it was fun to watch Hamm’s character arc from selfish ladies’ man to surrogate father.

Overall, this movie does not disappoint, and offers a little something for everyone. And, as a bonus, the score and/or soundtrack was super fun. The sound was a hip hop/Bollywood fusion. Million Dollar Arm is humorous, serious and, even though it’s a true story, will have you on the edge of your seat!

four reels


What do you think of Million Dollar Arm? 

18 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Million Dollar Arm (2014)

  1. I liked it. Gave it a positive review. It is hard to find fault with a film that mixes – sports, romance, fish-out-of-water, and redemption and is enjoyable but that what we have with this one. No surprises or twists – you can see every thing coming well ahead, but that still won’t prevent one from enjoying the film. Well written review. Thanks.

    1. Thanks! I think it’s a challenge to make a film interesting when it’s based on true events. However, I thought Disney did a great job of showing the struggles and tension. Surprisingly, I don’t remember hearing anything about this in the sports world at the time. So for me (even though I knew how it would end), it felt somewhat fresh.

  2. Oh I loved Suraj Sharma in Life of Pi and Lake Bell is lovely! I’d watch this one for the two of them, I’m generally not a big fan of Jon Hamm. He’s good looking but doesn’t seem like he has a range.

    1. I didn’t even realize Suraj was the same actor! He looks so different in this film, but I thought both of them did very well. Yes, I agree with you about Jon Hamm. He’s very good at playing the self-centered, womanizer, but it would’ve been nice to see someone with a bit more range.

  3. I’m glad you liked it Ashley. I was angry at the title because it’s too much a rip off of Slumdog Millionaire as if anything having to do with Indians now has to have Millionaire in the title. It’s a film I bet a lot families will enjoy.

    1. Wow I didn’t realize that about the title! Heh, Hollywood seems to have no imagination. “… as if anything having to do with Indians now has to have Millionaire in the title” Yep, it’s similar to casting actors. Once they associate someone w/ something, they just giving him/her that type of roles. But it seems that the movie itself is watchable though. I love Sharma from Life of Pi!

    2. I didn’t necessarily make that connection. The film title came from the pitcher talent contest. And I felt like it accurately represented the themes from the film. Regardless, I see your point, but I didn’t get the sense they were trying to be like Slumdog Millionaire. They briefly touch on poverty, but focused more on the customs and rituals of India.

      Yes, this is definitely an enjoyable film for all ages! 🙂

    1. Ahah well according to Ashley who reviewed this, seems like Jon Hamm is practically playing a variation of Don Draper here 🙂

    2. Sorry! IMO, I felt like Hamm was basically Don Draper, again. I didn’t think he was the best choice for the part. If you see it, let me know if your opinion differs.

  4. For some reason i keep mixing this up with ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ which was the film where Frank Sinatra is a heroin addict! Great review Ashley, you’ve piqued my interest in this even though i’m not a big fan of sports movies. Good stuff!

  5. I enjoyed it & did find Hamm slightly distracting but really because I’m thoroughly enjoying his role in Mad Men at the moment. In this movie he did portray a selfish ladies’ man, which is pretty much what Hamm plays in Mad Men so perhaps the roles were too similar to expect any different…

  6. Great review, sounds like a really cute movie. I love Jon Hamm so I am interested in seeing it. I hear what you are saying unfortunately although he got famous for his role as Don Draper it is also hindering him in a way. It is really hard not to see Don Draper come through even in the previews I thought oh look Don Draper plays baseball now. lol. Well regardless I still love him, I have a soft spot for him. 🙂 And I think eventually when the show is over DD will start ebbing away from him (hopefully).

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