'Million Dollar Arm' Review: It's Fine


Million Dollar Arm’ is fine. It stars Jon Hamm, who is fine, as a fine sports agent named J.B. Bernstein who tries to find some fine baseball players in India in this fine true story. And he succeeds, recruiting both Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal, who is fine) and Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma, also fine) who, after a rocky start, both wind up being fine. Lake Bell also stars, and isn’t given a whole lot to do, but she’s fine.

After you see ‘Million Dollar Arm,’ people will ask you, “How was ‘Million Dollar Arm’?” And you will respond, “It’s fine,” then go about your life and probably never once think about ‘Million Dollar Arm’ again on your life. Which is fine.

When ‘Million Dollar Arm’ starts, we meet the fine sports agent, Bernstein, who, even though he’s fine, he’s been down on his luck. His best potential recruit, a defensive player for the St. Louis Rams, a team that has had some fine seasons, but none lately, has signed with another fine agency. But, that’s fine! After switching between watching ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ (which, as a show, is fine) and a cricket match (which is a fine sport, I’m told), Bernstein has the fine idea to hold a public competition in India – a then-untapped baseball market – to find pitching talent. This fine idea could possibly save his fine sports agency.

After hiring a fine retired scout (Alan Arkin, who does his cranky shtick, which is fine), Bernstein heads to India for the tryouts. At first, it’s a disaster – no one can throw a baseball. But, calmer heads prevail, and everything is fine. Then, eventually, they find a few pitchers, who aren’t really great, but are fine. And, sometimes, all you’re looking for is fine. It’s a fine line, really.

Bernstein eventually brings the two finest pitchers back to Los Angeles to train at USC, which is a fine school with a fine baseball team run by a fine coach, Tom House (Bill Paxton) -- who is famous for making his pitchers warm up by throwing footballs, which is fine. House is also known for catching Hank Aaron’s then-record-breaking 715th home run – House caught the home run while in the Atlanta Braves bullpen, so really, he didn’t have much to do with it, but he was there, and that’s fine.

The rest of the film consists of Patel and Singh learning how to pitch, getting into wacky, culture-related hijinks (they don’t know how to use the escalator, which is fine, because they’ll learn) and attempting to further the relationship between Bernstein and the woman who is renting a house from him, Brenda (Bell). The two make a fine couple.

Someday, in the near future, you will be sitting on your couch, flipping through your television stations on a fine Sunday afternoon. You will come across ‘Million Dollar Arm,’ and you’ll stop and start watching because you’ll remember, Oh, yeah, this movie is fine. And, before it’s over, you will fall asleep. Not from boredom, because ‘Million Dollar Arm’ is fine, but it’s white noise. And white noise is fine. Humans like white noise because it’s comforting and it’s soothing, which are all fine things.

While you’re asleep, you will dream of better movies, and that’s fine. But, the reality is, if it weren’t for ‘Million Dollar Arm,’ you wouldn’t be catching up on some well-deserved rest at that particular moment. It really is a fine movie to fall asleep to on a weekend afternoon. If it was possible to keep track of such a thing, I suspect ‘Million Dollar Arm’ will someday become a go-to movie for napping, right alongside ‘The Rookie,’ ‘Meet the Fockers,’ and ‘You, Me and Dupree.’

“But what about the climactic game?,” you might ask. There is no big game in ‘Million Dollar Arm,’ just a major league tryout, which isn’t that exciting, but it’s fine. At least there’s a fine music swell as the scouts look at their radar guns. There’s no actual footage of Patel or Singh pitching in the major leagues, because that doesn’t exist. Patel pitched for parts of two seasons in the Pirates minor league system, before being released. Singh is still in the Pirates minor league system, but has battled injuries. But, Bernstein seems happy with his new girlfriend, so that’s fine. And as it turned out, both pitchers were fine, but not extraordinary (though it is remarkable that they made it as far as they did) – which is fitting for a movie like ‘Million Dollar Arm’ that is, yes...fine.

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