We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
The trouble with "Million Dollar Arm" is not limited to its title, which suggests a cheesy horror thriller about an overpriced artificial appendage that is coming to get you. This supposedly uplifting true-life baseball tale never quite strikes the necessary emotional sweet spots that these types of inspirational sports movies shamelessly if effectively milk, despite a pitch with great potential: Opportunistic sports agent out to save his struggling company attempts to sniff out untapped baseball talent in far-off India by staging a reality TV-show contest.
The plot suggests an intriguing triple play that combines the outside-of-box thinking of "Moneyball," the can-do gumption of "Jerry Maguire" and the mass-of-humanity chaos of "Slumdog Millionaire" underscored with music by the Oscar-winning A.R. Rahman. And for about half the movie, it almost succeeds.
But there is a gaping hole where "Million Dollar Arm"’s heart should be that widens to crater-size in the second half. And that hole is named JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm), a self-centered, arrogant serial model-dater who exhibits a near-sociopathic lack of concern for the welfare of others. For some reason, we are asked to cheer for this exploiter of two sheltered teen athletes as he drags them from their small Indian villages, flies them to Los Angeles and then expects them to sit around his coldly contemporary high-priced bachelor pad in between training sessions for a major league tryout.
They don’t speak English. They know next to nothing about the game they are supposed to be playing at professional levels. They don’t even know how elevators work. Yet they remain steadfastly loyal to “Mr. JB, Sir,” a man who does little to help them to overcome their culture shock and homesickness save for tossing them a couple of power bars for breakfast every day.