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MILLION DOLLAR ARM

             

For Hicksflicks.com, Oct. 24, 2014

"Million Dollar Arm" (PG), newly released on Blu-ray and DVD, is a terrific family film from Disney based on the true story of a down-on-his-luck sports agent (Jon Hamm) looking for the next big baseball phenom.

Eventually he hits on the idea of recruiting cricket players from India and teaching them to adjust their power to the great American pastime. And he recruits them by creating a television reality competition.

What follows is quite funny but it also runs deeper, especially as he brings three young Indian men to America for the first time and isn't prepared for the culture shock they'll be forced to endure.

        

              Bill Paxton, left, Alan Arkin, 'Million Dollar Arm'

Alan Arkin is hilarious as a major-league scout, Bill Paxton is very good as a veteran pitching coach and Lake Bell is quite winning as the agent's neighbor, who becomes a sort of den mother to the young recruits and helps Hamm's character rediscover his humanity.

        

Madhur Mittal, left, Suraj Sharma, Jon Hamm, Pitobash Tripathy, 'Million'

But the scene-stealers are the Indian actors, Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal as the players, and Pitobash Tripathy, a riot as a baseball fanatic who comes along to help.

I'm not sure why true sports stories so often lend themselves to uplifting family-friendly movies, but I'll take my feel-good films where I can find them. And this one certainly fits the bill.