Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) has put together an amazing cast. In addition to Hamm, Bill Paxton plays the former major-leaguer turned renegade coach set to teach these kids baseball, Alan Arkin plays the legendary scout who sleeps through most of the trip across India but can pinpoint the speed of a pitch by sound, and Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi plays Hamm’s business partner and the man who introduces him to cricket. Of course, the film would be nothing without the two ‘arms,’ played by Madhur Mittal (the brother from Slumdog Millionaire) and Suraj Sharma (Pi in Life of Pi). Every performance in the film is top notch but the kids steal the show. Where the come from, what they are thrown into, and what they do with it, it is really a lot to put them through in one film (and to put the audience through). By the end of the film, I found myself in tears as their Indian translator (another great performance, this one from Pitobash Tripathy) tells them that it will now be possible for children in India to dream of being baseball players because of what they are doing here.
Add to the great story and performances, Million Dollar Arm features a truly wonderful score by A.R. Rahman, and fantastic music supervision/editing by Jon Mooney. I found myself excited every time the plot moved from city to city because it meant another great mini-montage set to music and lush cinematography from Gyula Pados. The film is funny, has heart, and delivers a one-two punch of fish-out-of-water stories (first an LA agent in India then Indian rural kids in LA). You don’t even need to know much about baseball to like this film – in fact, one of the ongoing jokes is that most of the people in the film don’t – certainly not the Indian athletes, who both hate cricket as well.
Million Dollar Arm opens today everywhere. Go see it. Seriously.
THE ACTUAL PLAYERS THE MOVIE IS BASED ON
Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, the two javelin throwers from Uttar Pradesh who signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates only 13 months after picking up a baseball for the first time——