Based on a true story, this is one of those relentlessly uplifting Disney movies that mixes comedy and emotion to inspire and move the audience. Thankfully, it also has a very smart screenplay by Tom McCarthy (Win Win) that draws out some resonant themes while tackling cross-culture issues with wit and honesty. This makes it easy to identify with the sparky characters who are trying to reinvent themselves.
Sports manager JB (Jon Hamm) certainly needs a reinvention. He has lost all of his high-profile clients and now needs to find the next big thing. Perceived as washed-up, he has some difficulty convincing someone to fund his crazy plan to stage a talent competition in India to find baseball talent among the local cricket players. With the help of his easily distracted assistant Aash (Aasif Mandvi) and cantankerous ex-coach Ray (Alan Arkin), he narrows the candidates down to two potential stars: Rinku and Danesh (Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma and Slumdog Millionaire's Madhur Mittal). After JB brings them back to Los Angeles, along with over-eager interpreter Amit (Pitobash), renegade coach Tom (Bill Paxton) has to whip them into shape to see if they can attract interest from the big-league teams.
While the film continually threatens to indulge in smiley culture-clash slapstick, McCarthy's script continually grounds the action in the characters, who emerge as fully rounded people who are engagingly unpredictable. The cast is earthy and natural, anchored ably by Hamm as a likeable guy who remains self-absorbed even though he's desperate, and who takes a long time to learn his rather simple lesson. His chemistry with Lake Bell (as the plain-talking tenant in his pool house) is superbly messy. And ace scene-stealers Mandvi and Arkin bring plenty of comic relief to their hilarious roles.
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It's 1973 and young Steven is having a hard time from problems at his home in Pennsylvania due to his mother and father's tempestuous relationship with each other. In a bid to protect Steven from emotional turmoil and to allow themselves time to rebuild their marriage, his parents send him off to spend time with his grandparents on their farm which he soon finds is no longer a safe haven. In a moment of curiosity, Steven talks a walk into the high, expansive corn field but is given a fright when he discovers the body of a dead woman. He tells his grandparents who don't believe him at first, and he is approached by some unsavoury characters when he is briefly left alone in the car. Soon, the family become the victims of some terrifying disturbances at their home caused by some hidden perpetrators that use the corn fields as a hiding place and Steven begins to realise that he has less to fear from the dead than the living.
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