Director: Craig Gillespie.
Cast: Jon Hamm, Lake Bell, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Madhur Mittal, Suraj Sharma, Allyn Rachel.
Running Time: 124 minutes.
Synopsis: A twenty-something comedienne’s unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront the realities of independent womanhood for the first time.
Jon Hamm continues an incredibly lingering transition to the big screen with Disney’s American hit MILLION DOLLAR ARM, part sports drama, part romance, part fish-out-of-water comedy which combines to make up what is essentially a biographical rags-to-riches tale.
Tracking the story of sports agent JB Bernstein (Hamm) and an innovative idea which takes him to India (via a path of self-enlightenment and Britain’s Got Talent), we are introduced to his tough-to-like cynic who, whilst residing in a pristine apartment decorated with a flash car on the drive, spends his days dating models, soullessly shunning hellos from Lake Bell’s kooky tenant, Brenda.
With this being Disney, there is a humanity hiding away under that surface. Hamm conveys it neatly, striding through the 124-minute running time with the sophisticated allure of an actor direct from Hollywood’s Golden Age; a real movie star. Akin to his Mad Men counterpart Don Draper, Bernstein is best utilised communicating for professional gain. Willing to go to uncharted lengths to revive his flagging career, and rather oddly inspired by a convenient bout of channel-hopping (Amanda Holden making her Disney debut…), he travels to India to find the ‘million dollar arm’ – a baseball pitcher to rival the best of them. Step forward two equally as impressive finds with varying techniques; Rinku and Dinesh (Life of Pi’s Suraj Sharma and Slumdog Millionaire’s Madhur Mittal, both holding their own).
A film of two parts, the film’s India-set scenes are a real delight with Hamm’s fish-out-of-water arc making him all raised eyes and exasperated glances – aided by Pitobash Tripathy’s true comedic knack as baseball fanatic Amit Rohan. Your laughter may just catch you off guard. Alan Arkin’s arrival as sports scout Ray Poitevint, a dynamite performance which completely steals the film from all, is balanced shrewdly, failing to throw the film wide and reintroducing him when repetition spills through the cracks.
Bernstein struggles to add ‘mentor’ to his capabilities once back in the States, and this paves the way for Lake Bell’s Brenda to complete his transition. Her character is adorable as hell and simply adds to the mixture pot of never-overwhelming sweetness. The friendship she develops with the two strangers in a strange land rings true, with Brenda becoming the mouthpiece for Rinku and Dinesh’s confidence issues. As the story propels forward, the main cast all click nicely into place offering the film its share of memorable moments (just try not to grin when Rinku and Dinesh catch Bernstein sneaking out of Brenda’s room the morning after the night before, each actor nailing what director Craig Gillespie asks of them).
Despite no uncertainty of the ultimate destination, MILLION DOLLAR ARM somehow keeps your attention held, providing a well-structured if overlong journey that has no right to be this charming. While not the home run Disney may have been aiming for, Gillespie’s film will fix a smile onto your face – and it will be worth a million dollars.
[usr=4] MILLION DOLLAR ARM is released in UK cinemas from 29th August, 2014.