Actor Jon Hamm has become famous for his role in TV's MAD MEN, but now he's starring in a big screen movie for the first time.
MILLION DOLLAR ARM is based on the true story of a sports agent who tried to save his failing business by finding two young athletes in India with enough talent to become baseball pitchers.
It's a sweet, human story that's well acted by the entire cast, but unfortunately, the predictable script isn't as strong as it should be.
Jon Hamm is JB, a sports agent whose small firm is about to go belly up. But he and his partner Aash, played by the daily show's Aasif Mandvi, come up with the idea of running a TV contest in India to find two young athletes who can pitch. The two "pitch" the idea to a TV producer.
JB: Mr. Chang; if we can deliver to Major League baseball, its first Indian ball player, that's a billion new fans.
With an investor on board, JB goes to India, and the search is on. Alan Arkin plays the cynical retired baseball scout who comes along and is bored by the inept young men who try out.
JB: How are you gonna know if any of these guys can throw if you keep your eyes shut all day?
Scout: I can hear it.
JB: Really? (He gets hit by a ball in his upper right arm.)
Scout: That was about a 43. (Cut to the radar screen which reads "43.")
What this gentle comedy-drama lacks in originality, it almost makes up for with its good nature. One of the contenders is a javelin thrower. (He stands still, arm over his head as if he were about to throw a javelin.)
JB: How long has he been like that?
Scout: About a minute.
JB: Is he gonna throw?
Scout: I have no idea.
(But the young man does and it's an 82 mph strike.)
Back in the states it becomes obvious that the two boys JB has found aren't likely to succeed.
Baseball analyst on TV: These guys are not ready for a pro trial. Their chances fall between slim and none.
Part of the problem with MILLION DOLLAR ARM is that it's about JB more than it's about the boys. It's also about Lake Bell, as Brenda, the film's romantic interest, who has to set JB's priorities straight.
JB: These kids are my last best shot.
Brenda: But they're also just a couple of great kids. I mean they're far from home; they need to see that you care.
Parts of MILLION DOLLAR ARM are very enjoyable, but it's more like a pretty good TV movie than a satisfying feature film.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.