A Million Dollar Bowl with no spin
Forewarning: I’m not going to have much to say about this movie. I’m in a semi-state of pointlessness even as I sit here. This textbook example of cinematic storytelling plays like every other sports movie in the field and pushes no envelopes. As frustrating as it is to see something so uncreative, I cannot deny that it is also frustratingly inspired.
Million Dollar Arm covers the true story of struggling sports agent J.B Bernstein and his talent quest to find two Indian cricket bowlers and convert them to baseball pitchers. The lucrative idea being that it’ll bring the ratings of India’s avid cricket-watching audience with them.
The Longest Yard, Space Jam, Remember the Titans; all have the same checklist of small beginnings, aspirations and moments of inspiration. Plus the romantic subplot. I almost wish it was worse, so as not to make me lethargic. The film as it stands, is not incredible or terrible, but it idles painfully in the dimension of indifference.
What’s annoying is Million Dollar Arm has a marginally interesting premise – just not as much as it thinks it does. It’s a confident film, even competent, but an ethnic niche still doesn’t do enough to distract from its clone-like simplicity.
At most it’s an interesting tale about culture shock, adjustment and understanding – different social expectations between Westerners and Easterners. It’s in these exchanges though that Million Dollar Arm showcases a degree of genuine spirit like its counterparts. Such stories have been told to the point of cliché, perhaps that’s the reason for their popularity – they manage to retain warm emotion despite their déjà vu. They resonate a primal honesty and vulnerability, free from any unneeded complexity or spectacle – a simple human story.
It may seem like my perceptions are coloured negative, but Million Dollar Arm is an entirely capable movie. It just doesn’t leave its comfort zone. That makes it predictable and familiar, but enthusiastic and sentimental nonetheless. If it didn’t stick so studiously to the rulebook it could have been a dark horse. As it stands, it’s merely another contender.