|Million Dollar Arm (2014)|
Reviewed by Dustin Putman
(Release Date: October 7, 2014) In the grand tradition of 2009's "The Blind Side," where a privileged white person saves and betters the life of an underprivileged minority, "Million Dollar Arm" stars John Hamm (2011's "Friends with Kids") as J.B. Bernstein, a womanizing, down-on-his-luck sports agent who formulates a potential career-saving idea one night as he channel surfs between "Britain's Got Talent" and a cricket match. Traveling to India, he invites aspiring coach Amit Rohan (Pitobash) and hopeful candidates Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal) to come to America and train in hopes of earning spots on a Major League Baseball team. They move in with J.B., teach him about kindness and dignity, and are swept to the side so that everything can be told from the point of view of the studly, more easily marketable white actor in the cast.
Directed by Craig Gillespie (2011's "Fright Night") and written by Thomas McCarthy (2011's "Win Win"), "Million Dollar Arm" is close to lifeless in its rote, vaguely racist storytelling where the Indian characters' fish-out-of-water actions in the U.S. is treated as comic, "aren't-they-funny" fodder. Jon Hamm is distant as J.B., and his character exhibits no detectable signs that he is passionate about baseball. It seems like only a job to him, which makes his lead-role status in this tale all the more egregious. Lake Bell (2011's "No Strings Attached") tries to overcompensate for her standard love-interest part with an added layer of unfiltered gregariousness, but, as J.B.'s cute med-student tenant Brenda, there's only so much she can do. "Million Dollar Arm" is bland and overlong at 124 minutes. Simply put, there is nothing here of interest.
With just a single visual anomalya moiré-laden shot of the baseball stadium standsDisney's bountiful 1080p Blu-ray transfer of "Million Dollar Arm" is top-of-the-line high-def stuff. Full of clean edges, fine detail, dimensionality, and a potent array of colors and textures, this 2014 release looks exceptional. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio carries an oomph and full-bodied low end that really separates it from lesser modern aural tracks. The film's subject matter doesn't lend itself to explosive action, but that does not mean it lacks power in surrounding all corners of the soundfield and, in essence, bringing what is on the screen directly into one's home theater.
- "Training Camp" Featurette (6:18, HD)
- "Their Story" Featurette (2:54, HD)
- "Million Dollar Music by A.R. Rahman" Featurette (2:34, HD)
- Deleted Scenes (2:28, HD)
- Alternate Ending (0:49, HD)
- Outtakes (2:04, HD)
Disney's Blu-ray release of "Million Dollar Arm" stays true to the studio's high standards for quality when it comes to its high-def video and lossless audio presentations. The film, unfortunately, is stale and obvious, turning what should have been the story of three men from India getting a chance at a better life into one about a hot-shot white guy's do-gooder redemption. If you happen to be a fan, then do not hesitate to pick this Blu-ray up. All others proceed with more caution.