I had high hopes going to see Disney’s latest family movie, Million Dollar Arm. The movie is based on a true story and tells of J.B. Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm), a sports agent looking to find a new start athlete to whom he can hitch his wagon. Not finding such in America, he thinks to look toward the untapped market of India, where he believes he can find cricket players who can be converted to all-star baseball pitchers and then “cash in” on their stardom.
Truth is more interesting than fiction often times, and this movie is no exception. The real-life story is unique and shows viewers some of the extreme and interesting parts about life in India. Sports stories, too, provide an added level of drama and fodder for movie makers. In Million Dollar Arm, we get drama, humor and entertainment. We even see the character development of Bernstein and the two ball players he is trying to get into the Big League. There also is a portrayal of how empty a life is that seeks only money and sexual activity. This movie has a good screen play, and the actors are all very believable.
The movie is rated PG and is promoted and one for the whole family. In fact, there were people with children in the theatre in which I saw it. Because of some bad language, depiction of the party life, matter-of-fact references to sex-outside of marriage and so forth, I cannot recommend this movie for families. While we are not led to be like the characters who are portrayed living a bad life, Disney could have done with less crude and off-color content and been just as effective.
Since much of the movie is based on India, it is to be expected that there would be numerous references to yoga and the Hindu religion. At one point in the story, the two Indian athletes are praying, and Bernstein states matter-of-factly that he does not pray.
The universal values of truth-telling and good family relations are upheld, but any Christian hoping for some positive references to Jesus Christ will walk away disappointed. There could, however, be some springboards for real conversations about faith, and the movies offers a reminder that there is almost the whole sub-continent of India (a billion-plus people) who need the Gospel.
I mentioned that I walked into the movie with high hopes. I love sports, baseball and even cricket. I have taken a missions trip to India, and my heart aches for that noble place. That is partly why I walked away from Million Dollar Arm a bit disappointed. The movie, which certainly was well done, I am grading down for including things it shouldn’t have (and leaving out things it should).
2.5 of 4
Photo credit: Disney