Million Dollar Arm is a baseball movie. The film's first pitch has Jon Hamm's (Mad Men) J.B. Bernstein trying to save his athlete-agent business. Desperate for new talent, he goes to India to see if cricket players can be turned into baseball stars.
Once on first base, Hamm's two prospects Suraj Sharma's (Life of Pi) Rinku and Madhur Mittal's (Slumdog Millionaire) Dinish have to master pitching at a major league level. They have a year to get the job done. The two kids also have to fit into U.S. society. They're from small, remote Indian villages.
Sitting on second base is a nice love story between Hamm's Bernstein and Lake Bell's Brenda. It doesn't get much past second before Hamm's self-centered Bernstein clashes with the maternal Brenda and the relationship predictably stumbles as the movie heads for third.
Million Dollar Arm is directed by Craig Gillespie (2010s version of Fright Night). He's an excellent storyteller blessed with a great tale to tell. It's based on the true story of Bernstein and his novice prospects.
Thomas McCarthy -- one of the best screenwriters working today -- wrote the screenplay. He did The Station Agent and Win Win and penned the five-minute love scene in Up that is my all-time favorite love story. McCarthy gives Million Dollar Arm his expert touch and turns a simple story into something deep and multidimensional.
The flaw? It goes into extra innings. But it's a baseball movie and when it comes to baseball, movie length is forgivable. All that matters is that in the end, Million Dollar Arm hits a home run.
Director: Craig Gillespie
Stars: Jon Hamm, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Aasif Mandvi, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.
-- Does Mr. Movie hit a home run? Let him know at www.tri-cityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.