As well as making some of the best animated features of all time, Disney know how to make a decent sports film. From The Mighty Ducks to Cool Runnings, some are considered as classic as any other from their hit-heavy back catalogue.
Their latest sporting drama, Million Dollar Arm, is a story of clashing cultures. This time it’s Asians in L.A instead of Jamaicans in Canada, and baseball takes centre stage.
It tells the true story of down-on-his-luck sports agent J.B Bernstein, who is inspired by Britain’s Got Talent (further proof of Simon Cowell’s continuing impact on popular culture) to start a talent search of his own.
He travels to India, one of the last possible sources of untapped sporting potential, with the aim of turning two of the country’s best cricketers into first class baseball pitchers.
Bernstein scouts two young boys, Rinku and Dinesh, both of whom have a hatred for cricket but one hell of a throw. Plucked from their homes in the sticks and planted in Los Angeles, they have 6 months to become professional players.
What follows is exactly what you would expect from a film of this genre. Life lessons are learned, people grow up and strong familial bonds are formed. Whilst it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the aforementioned Cool Runnings, it could very well prove to do so for a whole new generation of film-goers.
It has a lot going for it. The Indian setting of the first half has real energy to it, and even with its long running time (just over two hours) it does move along at a great pace. The film slows down when we return to America due to an unnecessary romantic plot thread, but it manages to find its footing again before its conclusion.
The cast fire on all cylinders, and leading man Jon Hamm does a great job of that. Alan Arkin pops up and does what Alan Arkin does best, and you also have Life Of Pi’s Suraj Sharma, a scene stealing Pitobash and the always excellent Bill Paxton.
It’s their performances, as well as a charming screenplay, that make Million Dollar Arm such a good watch. It’s safe, family-friendly fun which has a great deal of humour and of course, that Disney feel-good factor.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com