***Disclosure: I received an all expense paid trip to Hollywood to cover various Disney/ABC TV events. All opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
Once the festivities were winding down and the sun was setting on Hollywood Boulevard, it was time to make our way into the theatre to see the movie that the sports world has been buzzing about, "Million Dollar Arm". Imagine my excitement when I realized that not only did I have one of the best seats in the house, we were also seated among the actors who made this film so special. (Madhur Mittal who plays Dinesh Patel was a few seats away, and the hilarious and talented Pitobash who portrays the quirky Indian baseball coach, Amit, was directly behind me.) It was unreal, and the whole theatre buzzed with excitement.
J.B. wants to go to India in search of the next great Major League Baseball pitcher hopefuls. There's a hurdle they must overcome, though. A pretty BIG one, at that. In India, no one knows a thing about American baseball, let alone ever thrown a baseball. Oh, and there is also a pretty extreme language barrier, since at that point in time, J.B. did not speak a word of Hindi.
Mr. Bernstein somehow gained the support of some very powerful investors, and was given a one year time frame to make his plan come to fruition.He would travel to India and audition kids for "Million Dollar Arm", a competition where the winner would receive $100,000 American dollars, and the top 2 contenders would travel to the United States to learn to play baseball. At the end of that year, they had to be ready for MLB try-outs.
One year. Could he travel to India, audition thousands and thousands of hopefuls, and train them to pitch well enough to secure MLB try-outs within this insane time frame? It sounds impossible, right? I mean, there are kids here in the United States that spend their entire childhoods and teen years playing baseball, with the dream of making the Big Leagues someday. Even for these kids, who have been exposed to the sport their whole lives, this dream isn't an easy one to achieve. How would some kids from India, who have never played the game, be ready for try-outs in just 12 short months?
Rinku and Dinesh came from small, rural farming villages, and had never been away from their homes or families. In India, most people never really leave their homes, and they often take over the family businesses once they come of age. Family is the glue that holds these communities together. Of course when they have to leave for America, there are plenty of tears, since these young men would be entering a whole new world where literally everything is foreign to them. I cried along with their mothers as they said their goodbyes. (Yep, have some tissues handy. You will need them!)
Rinku and Dinesh have a vigorous training schedule, and work hard to improve the speed and accuracy of their pitches. These boys spend hours and hours every day working hard to make Mr. Bernstein proud. J.B., however, gets blinded by dollar signs with other potential deals, and ends up neglecting these boys who have come to see him as a father figure of sorts. He even gets angry with them when their performance isn't what he thinks it should be. What he doesn't realize is that Rinku and Dinesh want nothing more than to make him proud, and that disappointing him is their greatest fear.
Yes, J.B. is a bit of a jerk. At first. You see, he's never really had to think about anyone other than himself. And as a sports agent, everything was always about the money, never the bigger picture. While J.B. is definitely a bit shallow, he is still likable since viewers see glimpses of a better man throughout the beginning of the film.
With the help of Brenda, his tenant and eventual love-interest, (played by the stunning Lake Bell) J.B. starts to soften up a bit. He starts seeing these boys for exactly what they are, just a couple of great kids who are far from home and want nothing more than to please him. They see him as a surrogate Dad of sorts, and he is the only family they have here in the United States. So J.B. realizes his responsibility to these boys is about more than turning them into baseball players, it's about being there for them and caring about them as people during their life-changing journey.
What I will say is that this film is absolutely amazing. It's about so much more than baseball. In fact, you don't even have to like baseball to love this movie. Sure, it follows the amazing accomplishments of Rinku and Dinesh, who happen to be rock-star athletes. Seeing them pitch is absolutely incredible. What these boys achieved in one short year is a story that needs to be told, far and wide. These kids are the very definition of courage, and I feel so blessed to have met them. (You can check out my interview with the REAL J.B., Rinku and Dinesh HERE.)
It's also about becoming a better person through the successes of others. This journey was quite enlightening for J.B. Bernstein himself, and watching him evolve from a selfish, often one-dimensional character into a compassionate, caring human being was also quite inspirational.
And finally, this movie teaches us that no dream, regardless of how impossible it may appear, is out of reach. With hard work, dedication, and a lot of heart, dreams DO come true. Just look at Rinku and Dinesh. They're living proof of that, and are now role models for kids in their home country of India as well as here in the United States.
So if you're looking for a movie that has everything from laughter to tears and everything in-between that's perfect for the entire family, definitely head to your local theaters to see "Million Dollar Arm". This inspirational tale is sure to become a classic thanks to the courage of the REAL J.B., Rinku, and Dinesh, as well as the amazing portrayal by this amazing cast.
Million Dollar Arm is in theaters today!
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