Million Dollar Arm
Rated PG. Opens Friday at the AMC Van Ness 14.
What's so bad about feeling good, anyway? Based on the true story of the first Indian citizens to play professional baseball, Craig Gillespie's globetrotting Million Dollar Arm is an exemplar of a Feel Good Movie (Disney, Sports Division), and damn if it doesn't work. Not having much luck signing that one American player who can make his career, sports agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) travels to India in hopes of finding a cricket pitcher he can mold into a baseball pitcher. The first act is Bernstein as the fish out of water in India, but the heart is Bernstein's 18-year-old discoveries Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal) adjusting to life in America, along with their effervescent translator Amit (Pitobash). Rinku, Dinesh, and Amit's bonding with Bernstein's tenant Brenda (Lake Bell) is especially touching, though Bernstein's arc as a Type-A louse who learns to open his heart never quite clicks, because Hamm starts off as charming and charismatic; he's clearly avoiding doing Don Draper, but it might have helped to give his character somewhere to go in the beginning. The picture tugs relentlessly at the heartstrings, and thanks to its terrific cast and its respect for Indian culture — Disney's The World's Greatest Athlete this ain't — Million Dollar Arm earns its sentiment.