Million Dollar Arm — Christian Movie Review
JB Bernstein’s (Jon Hamm) sports agency is on its last legs, and he needs a breakthrough fast. His crazy solution? Find baseball’s next great pitcher in India by turning a young cricket pitcher into a major league powerhouse. This means that JB must travel to India to produce a competition, filmed like a reality show, called “Million Dollar Arm.” On his wild journey he finds teenagers who have never seen a baseball game in their life, yet they can throw fast balls at unbelievable speeds. Along the way, JB, with the help of his attractive friend Brenda (Lake Bell) learns how to overcome personal demons and become a better human being.
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content/Nudity: No nudity, but three “implied” sex scenes where a character is leaving another character’s house the “morning after.” A woman jokes sarcastically about sex with the repairman to get free washer repairs. A woman is briefly scene sitting on the toilet after someone accidentally walks in on her.
Violence/Gore: JB gets hit in the arm with a baseball. A character hits a chair angrily. Three characters spew projectile vomit in a car after drinking too much.
Language: PG-rated mild profanity (i.e. “crap,” “hell, one use of “godd-n”).
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: Several scenes of social drinking between professionals in baseball and between casual friends. One party scene where a character unknowingly drinks spiked punch and gets drunk.
Frightening/Intense Content: JB is depicted in a very unsympathetic way at times, and when he screams and yells angrily at the Indian baseball players it could be emotionally intense to sensitive young viewers. The vomiting scene is kind of gross if throw-up makes you especially squeamish.
(Review continues below)
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
Million Dollar Arm was a surprisingly enjoyable film that I wouldn’t mind watching again. The most enjoyable elements come from its tour abroad of India. While some people might protest how accurately the film depicts India — and this complaint always arises if anyone in Hollywood tries to shoot extensively in another country — I thought those scenes added a refreshing sense of adventure. It gave you the feeling of “getting out” and going on a journey.
Besides the exotic locale for the first act of the film, the acting really made this movie shine. Pitobash’s performance as Amit was arguably the highlight of the film, with everyone else in the cast tying for a close second. It was fun to witness the likeable, believable Jon Hamm (of Mad Men fame) in his first big screen tent pole picture role, and — though Pitobash probably shined the brightest overall — Alan Arkin’s hilarious performance as an old, been-there-done-that baseball scout was my personal favorite. Lake Bell as Brenda added a smart and refreshing feminine touch to a male-dominated cast.
And the script was great: lots of funny moments and some surprisingly emotional scenes that moved the audience — especially in the ending.
And, the coolest part? It’s actually a true story. Although a couple things were changed, the Hollywood adaptation sticks surprisingly close to the real story as it actually happened, which is a rarity.
The film doesn’t really stick its nose into any religious content, other than a brief scene involving Hindu worship, because it’s trying to appeal to as many different families as possible.
What will disappoint faith based viewers is its total embrace of the premarital sex lifestyle of modern pop culture. I would point out, however, that it drew a sharp contrast between America’s amoral sexuality and India’s highly modest culture where even kissing is considered a serious thing. I liked this contrast in the film. It made the audience, perhaps unintentionally, see that sexual purity and modesty is actually possible in a culture.
Despite some of the issues that lurk in the background of the plot, as a funny and engrossing family film, Million Dollar Arm is solid. It’s a well-made movie, it’s fun, it’s different and refreshing, and it stays in its PG boundaries.