“Million Dollar Arm” a Touching True Story (Video Review)

MILLION boxart blu


Based on a true story, Walt Disney Pictures brings another fine movie to Blu-ray/DVD involving sports. Returning to baseball, the family focused Disney presents Million Dollar Arm perfect timing for the upcoming World Series. Dramatically presented adding comedy and sweet tears, the movie takes the audience into a world where baseball doesn’t exist and shows how working together with another country helps to spreads equality created through sports. The Blu-ray with a Digital Copy has all the special bonus features and an alternate ending.

The film follows J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) a sports agent whose career has taken a turn for the worst. Wanting to get back on track he tries to find a way to get noticed and attract more business. After seeing a cricket game on television he gets the idea of going to India to find a baseball player who can pitch in professional baseball. He offers a million dollars to a young man who can throw the fastest in a pitching competition called “The Million Dollar Arm”.

Gathering a lot of attention, he combs India having tryouts for the final group. During the final pitch-off Bernstein finds two 18 year-olds, Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) and Rinku (Suraj Sharma) that qualify to train in the United States. Both will get a tryout in front of major league baseball scouts. But it’s not all roses for Bernstein and he finds himself tweaking his approach.

Vivek (Darshan Jariwala), Bernstein and Ray Poitevint  (Alan Arkin)

Vivek (Darshan Jariwala), Bernstein and Ray Poitevint (Alan Arkin)

There’s a lot of comedy mixed throughout with Bernstein’s hired Indian interpreter Amit Rohan (Pitobash) working with entrants of the contest and offering some unusual suggestions. Director Craig Gillespie keeps his film light with well placed situations that allow for Rohan’s funny antics. The story gets somewhat sappy at times, but Gillespie keeps it from getting overly maudlin up to the final act.

Gillespie puts together a good sports film that entertains at all age levels. Although the target market favors males with its baseball theme, much like Moneyball and Jerry Maguire the movie reaches out to twenties plus females with a good measure of romance and family relationships. His acting team works hard to make the film work for everyone in this PG effort.

Jon Ham fills the bill as the stylish businessman hell bent on getting back to the top of his game. He shows Bernstein’s vulnerable side in both the business and romance end as he muddles his way through his last ditch effort to get his life back on track. Adding a little comedy Alan Arkin plays Ray Poitevint a master when it comes to finding pitchers. He doesn’t have to look at their style, just shuts his eyes and listens for the right baseball pitch. He’s also concerned that Bernstein is making a folly out of baseball with his competition.

Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), Rinku (Suraj Sharma), Bernstein (John Hamm) and Amit Rohan (Pitobash)

Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), Rinku (Suraj Sharma), Bernstein (John Hamm) and Amit Rohan (Pitobash)

In support, Bill Paxton plays Tom House, the coach of USC who instructs the two India prospects for their tryouts. Frustrated at times, House is concerned about Bernstein’s possible failure in getting the boys attention from major league scouts and making a fool of himself in the bargain. He says that it’s Major League Baseball he’s dealing with and not some social experiment.

Madhur Mittal  as Dinesh in Million Dollar Arm

Madhur Mittal as Dinesh in Million Dollar Arm

But it’s Dinesh, Rinku and Amit who steal the show with the three actors showing the wonder of coming from India and seeing what America has to offer. They are wowed by all the luxuries, modern living and future possibilities for themselves as they bungle through the very different social climate. They add comedy and a lot of adventure making the movie touching and inspirational as the boys take the journey of their life.

The video quality of the Blu-ray is excellent. The bright and colorful vistas of India, the smart lighting of interiors and the excitement of the pitching duel are all captured in the transfer from screen to home viewing.

The sound quality using the 5.1 DTS-HDMA though my television speakers is very good. I enhanced the experience with a external speaker system with some surround improvement.


There are three special very good bonus features

“Training Camp” features actors Madhur Mittal (Dinesh) and Suraj Sharma (Rinku) getting their pitching and fitness training.

“Their Story” features the real JB Bernstein talking about how he put together the Million Dollar Arm contest for India. He called it a talent search to find the first baseball player from India. During this extra we see shots of the real Denish Patel and Rinku Singh trying out. Actual film and photos of the two baseball players are shown.

“Million Dollar Music by A.R. Rahman” the music director that produced the musical score goes over how he chose the titles for both India and America.

In addition there are deleted scenes, outtakes and an alternate ending.

Million Dollar Arm has been rated PG by the MPAA for mild language and some suggestive content. Its fun for the whole family and even the ladies will feel the enchantment as the movie spools out. While it’s not on the level of Miracle, The Rookie or Secretariat as some of the ads tout, it does have a nice outcome with a lot of sweet moments.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A cool family film on Blu-ray at the perfect time, baseball season. (B)

Specifications and additional film information:
Cast: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell, Madhur Mittal, Pitobash and Alan Arkin
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language and some suggestive content
Genre: Sports, Drama
Running Time: 2 hrs 4 minutes
Video Release Date: October 7, 2014
Original Film Release Date: May 16, 2014
Language: English
Format: Blu-ray, DVD
Audio: Blu-ray- 5.1 DTS-HDMA and DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, DVD- Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Aspect Ratio 2.39:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Number of Discs: 1 Disc
Distributed by: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

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