Walt Disney Studios invited me on an all-expenses paid press trip in order for me to be able to share it with my readers. As always, all opinions are my own.
Next week I will be taking my family to see Million Dollar Arm. It will be my third time, and I can't wait to see it with my husband and daughters. I have been raving about it ever since I returned from Los Angeles last week when I was able to attend the premiere and Million Dollar Arm Pitching Contest.
I saw the movie the first time in a screening room, before the actual premiere. I laughed, I cried, then I cried some more. This movie is so uplifting and such a wonderful story, I just want to shout it from the rooftops (or post on Twitter!) telling everyone how fantastic this film is!
In case you don't know the story, JB Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) is a sports agent who, at one time, was very successful. It seems those days are behind him as he can't sign a client to save his life...or his business. He has a partner (played by Aasif Mandvi) who is rooting for him, but not sure he can hang on if money doesn't start coming in.
One night while vegging out watching TV, JB has a revelation. Could an Indian cricket player learn to be a pitcher in the major leagues? I loved this part of the movie, because sometimes the craziest idea is just what you need to get you out of a slump. And this idea is pretty crazy. What if they held a contest to recruit the best two pitchers they could find in India?
JB shares the idea with his partner, who reluctantly goes along with him to present it to Will Chang (Tzi Ma), their financial backer. The is some feat they think they can accomplish, and when he asks for a timeline, Chang asks if they can do it in half the time. Be sure not to miss the expression on JB's partner's face when JB answers that question! If you'd like to see pics from the premiere where I met Tzi Ma, check out my premiere post.
With Chang's finances behind the idea, JB takes off for India. The day he arrives, he meets Amit, playd by Pitobash Tripathy, who wants to be a baseball coach and will work for free, an offer JB can't refuse.
Between the heat, the culture shock, and the laid-back way they do business in India, JB realizes this may be a bigger challenge than he thought. But the worst is yet to come. Traveling all over the country, they can't find a pitcher who can pitch over 30-40 miles per hour. Major League pitchers throw a fast ball an average of 92 MPH. Maybe this wasn't such a bright idea after all.
Enter Rinku and Dinesh, seventeen-year old boys who can both throw a decent fast ball, though some "tweaking" may be necessary. This is one of my favorite clips from the movie. By the way, I was able to chat with the boys who actually won the contest in India, who the movie was written about. Check out my interview.
These boys leave their country, their families, their whole way of life, and come to America to be groomed. This is when the story gets really good. JB needs someone who knows what they're doing to help turn these boys into major league baseball players. With the help of Ray, played by Academy Award® winner Alan Arkin, and the guidance of Coach House, played by Bill Paxton, they attempt to accomplish the "highly improbable."
It takes a while, but JB finally learns that this dream he has designed is not all about him, or even about the money. It takes the wise counsel of his gorgeous neighbor, Brenda, played by Lake Bell, to realize these boys have left everything, and might just need to know someone really cares.
Million Dollar Arm might be expected to be a coming-of-age story for the two boys, but seeing the change in JB once he takes responsibility for the lives of these boys is so heartwarming. It is really JB who has growing up to do, and the selfish playboy does just that, and finds true love for the first time in a long time because of it.
This is not a sports movie, though if you like sports, especially baseball, you'll love this film. Girls, here is a feel-good movie you will need tissues for that your husband will love, too. Your kids can see this movie, and may just bring home valuable lessons about perseverance and reaching for the stars, even when they seem so out of reach. If it sounds like I'm gushing over this movie, it's only because I really, really loved it. I know you will, too. It hits theaters across the country tomorrow. Put it on your calendar. And please come back and share your thoughts!