Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 22, 2014

'Million Dollar Arm' Is Entertaining, But It Could Have Been So Much More

Credit rottentomatoes.com

Million Dollar Arm is an entertaining trifle full of material that should have added up to a lot more.

John Hamm goes to India to find recruits for his failing baseball business, and recruits a cricket player and a javelin thrower on the assumption that all a baseball player needs is the ability to throw a ball with quicksilver speed and missile accuracy.

At least, that’s all the boys work at, and nobody assumes they should do more, including Alan Arkin, the chief comedy character, a baseball scout who can judge a pitch by the sound of the ball passing.

The closing credits indicate that we aren’t intended to take all this very seriously, but after seeing the Jackie Robinson movie 42 again, I couldn’t help but mourn the neglect of the theme of racial prejudice.

Million Dollar Arm dodges this, largely by keeping the boys isolated in Hamm’s house and various athletic stadia; but that very isolation is criticized by coach Bill Paxton and heroine Lake Bell, and Hamm’s responsibility for the isolation is verbally emphasized in a couple of places but not much acted out.

Differences between Indian culture and American is simply overlooked; the boys take instantly to pizza and are fascinated by electronic phenomena like elevator doors, but Hamm blunders in and joins the boys in prayer, it doesn’t seem to occur to anybody that this may not be suitable to the religion of India.

Million Dollar Arm is an enjoyable trifle that I probably take too seriously. But it could have been so much more.