For a baseball movie, there is a distinct lack of baseball played in “Million Dollar Arm,” the new based-on-a-true story, feel-good sports flick from the House of Mouse.
Jon Hamm stars as sports agent J.B. Bernstein, who is down on his luck and nearing his last dollar. He had broken off from a big agency — just the first of the many “Jerry Maguire” connections you’ll find here — and his firm desperately needs to land a client they’ve been courting for months or else they’ll have to close up shop.
With money drying up, inspiration (and desperation) hits and J.B. comes up with the idea of going to India and holding a reality competition show to find cricket players who could be turned into baseball pitchers.
At its heart, “Million Dollar Arm” is really a story about finding family in places you’d never expect to find it.
J.B. and crew — assistant Ash (Aasif Mandvi) and drowsy elderly scout Ray (Alan Arkin, hilarious when awake) — find a pair of young Indian athletes with potential that they bring back to the States.
They get a hard lesson in what it takes to be a pitcher, with the help of former player and coach Tom House (Bill Paxton) while J.B. gets a hard lesson in parenthood.
You can Google to find out what happens to the players on the baseball field, but what the film is really about is the mental sea change J.B. experiences as he turns from a guy all about “show me the money” to a spiritual family man.
The Disney sports film genre — “Miracle,” “The Rookie,” “Invincible” — has a standard protocol of redemption and rah-rah moments. “Million Dollar Arm” surely fills those criteria.