Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

May 13, 2014

CALLERI: New movie attempts to bridge cultures on the playing field


Niagara Gazette — “Million Dollar Arm” feels like something made in the 1950s, when folks in the U.S. wore blinders to block out the world around them. This is supposed to be a family picture, but it’s too dull to engage children. Every cliche, not only about India, but also about baseball, is pounded into your brain, a sense of familiarity that will soon bore adults.

We begin with the curmudgeonly baseball scout, played by Alan Arkin, who really needs to stop accepting these rumpled parts. Then there’s the coach (Bill Paxton), whose every sentence sounds like wisdom from Yoda. And what would an alleged baseball comedy be without goofy players and goofier hitting and throwing? How many training montages were there in the movie? Too many. They turned what should have been a peppy 100-minute feature into a 125-minute endurance test.

As for romance, the film tiptoes around the subject as if babies really do come from storks. Remember that woman next door? I felt sorry for actress Lake Bell, who had to create a character out of virtually nothing. Does the Disney Company, which made the movie, fear interesting women?

Another problem with “Million Dollar Arm” is that JB naively believes that if he can get his cricket players signed to major league contracts, he can sell a billion baseball hats in India, which would never happen. I wondered if the agent upon which JB is based really did think that. It’s an inane reason for carrying out his master plan.

“Million Dollar Arm” is directed by Craig Gillespie, who doesn’t have the knack for making scenes in which more than a few people appear come alive. He’s better at quirky and off-beat, which is why his “Lars And The Real Girl” is so interesting.

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