‘Million Dollar Arm’: The Reviews Are In

Is the film a home run, or will it strike out with critics?

America’s pastime is coming to India.

That is, at least, the premise of the new movie “Million Dollar Arm,” which dramatizes the true story of JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm). In the movie, a down on his luck sports agent goes to India to find the next great baseball pitcher and get them signed. Call it “Jerry Maguire” meets “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Hamm is joined by an eclectic and talented cast, including Alan Arkin as his main baseball scout, Aasif Mandvi as his partner, Bill Paxton as a pitching coach, and Lake Bell as a med student he meets in India.

Disney has had plenty of success with inspiring true sports stories, having brought “Remember the Titans,” “The Rookie,” “Invincible” and “Miracle” to the big screen. No, “Air Bud” was unfortunately not ripped from the headlines.

But will audiences flock to “Million Dollar Arm,” or is the film a big swing and a miss? Here’s what critics have to say about the movie, which opens Friday (May 16).

Intelligent and Respectful
“The country itself is depicted in largely the same chaotic, exoticized terms that have become de rigueur in Western-made movies: endless snarls of traffic, stomach-upsetting cuisine, poor sanitary conditions, and those unflappable locals who throw their hands in the air and say things like, ‘Here in India, we do things a little differently.’ But even at its broadest, the movie is careful to afford its Indian characters a certain fundamental dignity — and, in another intelligent move, allows them to deliver much of their dialogue in their native Hindi.” — Scott Foundas, Variety

Flawed But Likable

“When it focuses on the clash of cultures, laughs naturally flow. When it follows the familiar sports movie playbook too slavishly, it grows tedious. But everyone loves an underdog and the story capitalizes on that. Like JB’s persona, ‘Million Dollar Arm’ is flawed, but also slickly presented and likable.” — Claudia Puig, USA Today

Hamm Was ‘Born To Be A Leading Man’

“But Hamm’s raspy-voiced, square-jawed charm is used to good effect. This guy was born to be a leading man; why did it take so long?” — Moira McDonald, Seattle Times

Armed With A Great Supporting Cast

“As Bernstein’s tenant and eventual lover, Lake Bell is terrific, funny, truthful. She’s improved every movie she has ever been in, and she has a way of interacting with everyone on screen that feels natural. Bill Paxton, Mr. Relaxation, has a few scenes as pitching coach Tom House. Alan Arkin makes tiny little comic mountains out of tinier comic molehills as a crusty, nap-prone scout. With winning panache, Aasif Mandvi plays Bernstein’s partner in business, whose densely packed family life is the opposite of Bernstein’s fastidiously self-centered single-guy existence.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

You Won’t Be Able To Resist It

“I’d be lying if I said the movie didn’t get me a few times. But that’s the thing about schmaltz: Just because you can see it coming doesn’t mean you can resist it.” — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly