Saturday movie review: 'Million Dollar Arm'

Sports movies are one of my favorite film genres because they're always so inspirational and uplifting. I had the privilege of attending a free screening the other night with my hubby and two local daughters of one of the most fun sports movies I've seen in quite some time: MILLION DOLLAR ARM.

Million Dollar Arm poster

The movie not only made my family want to get up and cheer, it made us — Andrea and myself, in particular — want to get down and dance... Bollywood style.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM stars Jon Hamm and a host of other well-known faces (Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Bill Paxton and Suraj Sharma from LIFE OF PI) plus several Indian actors I'd not seen before (Pit Obash, Madhur Mittal and others). It's based on the true story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Hamm) and his improbable — some said impossible — plan to recruit players from India in hopes of signing them to Major League Baseball teams.

J.B. starts out as a work-focused jerk, for the most part. Humor and heart are provided by those who surround him. And romance — there's always romance, right? — comes by way of Brenda, (Bell in a realistic and understated performance).

Million Dollar Arm screen shotMILLION DOLLAR ARM (left to right, standing) Amit (Pitobash), Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) and Rinku (Suraj Sharma) create a little India in the backyard to say thank you to JB Bernstein and Brenda (Jon Hamm, Lake Bell. Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM is predictable in that way most sports films are: The questions are typically will the main characters win? Lose? Have an epiphany of a life-changing sort? And it's predictable in that it stirs up your heart and competitive spirit and makes you want to cheer for the underdog.

There's also the predictable tear-jerking moments. Though the scenes that choked me up were different than those that brought tears to my daughters' eyes. (I'm pretty sure Jim didn't come close to crying... but then again, it is a baseball movie and he is quite the baseball fan. He's likely glad the theater was dark.)

Sometimes predictability is a good thing, makes for a feel-good film. This is one of those times.

I'm willing to bet baseball fans and non-fans, males, females, preteens and up will enjoy MILLION DOLLAR ARM. Pre-teens (and those who abhor subtitles) might be forewarned, though, that there are indeed some subtitles — the key folks are from India! — that are integral to the story line and shouldn't be missed.

The music is fun and catchy, and the credits feature some pretty great photos of the real young men who rocked the MLB, so stick around and watch the credits roll.

Because Disney does such a super job providing featurettes for its films (as well as the photos and clips above), I'm compelled to share another clip with a little more insight into MILLION DOLLAR ARM.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM (rated PG for "mild language and some suggestive content") opened in theaters yesterday, May 16. Find out more about the film on its official website and Facebook page.

Today's question:

What is your favorite sports film?