So I met some friends from our church this afternoon at the local movie theater to see "Million Dollar Arm."
I went in without high expectations nor a burning desire to see it. But it is a baseball film, after all ... And I left the theater having loved it. I'd go see it again in the theater if someone invited me, and I would enjoy owning the DVD.
First of all, it was beautifully shot. It made me want to book a trip to India when I got home. ... And back to L.A., too.
Great cast, too. Jon Hamm -- well, he's great in just about anything. I really enjoyed his chemistry with Lake Bell's Brenda. And Bill Paxton nailed the part of Tom House.
The story-telling was wonderful, too, of course. It was inspirational. There was comedy. There was romance. It successfully took my mind off everything else for a couple hours this afternoon and gave me everything I could ask for in a baseball film. ... And, as I got to thinking about it on my drive home, there wasn't a bad word in it, either. Making it an excellent family film.
I also noted a lot of similarities to Jerry Maguire: Sports agent trying desperately to make a name for himself on his own. Loses sight of his key clients when he tries to hook the big fish, and loses. Embarks on an unlikely romance. ... Except Hamm's J.B. Berstein initially appears to be more high strung and a bigger jerk than Tom Cruise's Maguire.
I also know enough about baseball and read some pieces about the "Million Dollar Arm" characters -- and I've seen my share of inspirational based-on-a-true-story Disney films -- prior to seeing the movie today to know that the film's creators made some enhancements to the story and didn't share it completely.
Doesn't matter. I was thoroughly entertained.
One other note: I got a good kick out of the scene depicting the pitching prospects' first major league tryout in the strip mall parking lot. In the group of scouts and beat writers crowded around the pitching cage, I picked out Ken Rosenthal, Tom Verducci and Steve Levy. Their faces only flashed on the screen for a few moments, although Levy had a very brief interview with one of the guys later in the scene, and only an avid baseball fan would have recognized them. I'm sure there were other faces I missed, and I thought it was pretty cool they were included.
Here's an interview with the real-life Rinku Singh.