Critics assess the real-life sporting drama lead by the 'Mad Men' star.
Million Dollar Arm is released today in the USA, bringing Craig Gillespie's take on the remarkable true story of sports coach J.B. Bernstein to life with Mad Men's Jon Hamm in the driving seat alongside Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Aasif Mandvi and Lake Bell. It's easy to see why Hamm was cast as Bernstein, the sports agent and marketing wiz who devised a programme to inspire Indian cricket players to make the jump to baseball in the search for a news sports hero.
Jon Hamm Plays Sports Coach J.B. Bernstein In This Heart-Warming True Story Dramatisation.
"Sometimes a hard-hitting expose, sometimes a big-hearted crowdpleaser, "Million Dollar Arm" wants it both ways to be sure, but its instincts are mostly right on the money, as are its actors," says Variety. Scott Foundas is even-handed in his review, making sure to praise all those who make the movie such a solid watch, including "Gyula Pados' ace widescreen lensing," "jubilant wall-to-wall song score by Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman" and Hamm "who possesses a special talent for ferreting out the humanity in seemingly soulless corporate suits."
"Million Dollar Arm," an easygoing and unpretentiously entertaining baseball drama, is just that kind of film, one that tells a terrific story by way of an appealing cast, handsome production values and a warm, unaffected tone," says the Washington Post's Ann Hornaday lovingly.
"Even fans who know how this story endswill enjoy a movie that choreographs the most predictable moments [...] with deftness and charm," the critic adds.
However, the NY Times isn't feeling the magic of this most Disney of sports stories: "This watchable but rambling, flaccid movie, based on the true story of Mr. Bernstein's 2007 journey to India in search of future baseball superstars, has little of the bite or tension of "Jerry Maguire," whose obnoxious hotshot agent is a prototype for JB."
Critics Have Admitted That The Movie Is Typically Cheesy But Retains Its Dignity With Solid Cast & Production.
Most reviewers praise the handling of the Indian-American relations in the movie but not Stephen Holden, who says of the two lead Indian actors "Rinku and Dinesh [Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal], both of whom grew up in poverty, are little more than appealing blanks whose backgrounds are barely sketched, and the severe culture shock they face in America is milked more for cuteness than for pathos."
"Hamm [...] displays an easy charm and nice comic instincts in a role that fits him like a broken-in glove," gushes the LA Times' Kenneth Turan, who was so impressed that he was able to stomach that the film's many clichés: "You can see the stuff "Million Dollar Arm" throws at you from miles away, but that doesn't stop this baseball movie from being genially enjoyable."
The movie will lock horns with fellow opener Godzilla this weekend and the new X-Men next weekend and will likely lose out. Due to its largely American subject matter, the movie is also expected to underperform internationally, which was reportedly compensated for with a lower budget. "It's about baseball really, it won't travel very well internationally, so we have to make it for a lot less money or we can't make it," Walt Disney Studios' Alan Horn explained at the recent Bloomberg talk, via Variety.
So hope is riding high on the cinema-going habits of the baseball-loving America. Disney's Dave Hollis noted "It's a time of year when every baseball fan still believes their team's chances are high."
Million Dollar Arm is out today in the US and will be released on the 29th August in the UK.
'Million Dollar Arm' Is Out Now In The USA.