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Million Dollar Arm


Stars: Jon Hamm, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell, Bill Paxton, Alan Arkin, Allyn Rachel, Amit, Tzi Ma, Bar Paly, Gregory Alan Williams

Director: Craig Gillespie

A baseball movie with no big names? That's surely likely to be batting zero with British audiences. But wait. This one is not only based on fact, but decidedly different.

Hamm, after small-screen success with Mad Men, establishes his big-screen credentials as J B Bernstein, wheeler dealer and sports agent whose firm is on its uppers at the start of the story when, while watching cricket in India on TV, he comes up with an idea: a trip to India, where trials will be staged to find the fastest and most accurate pitchers of a baseball.

The two winners will be given a trial at one of America's National League teams.

Even if you don't like baseball, or know nothing about it, you should think twice about missing this film, which has ingratiating performances, and mines some of the emotional appeal of Slumdog Millionaire.

The first half, set in india, and treading a fine line between the condescending and the vigorously atmospheric, is exceptional, the second, back in America, merely good. The roles are gifts and Hamm, Bell, as his doctor tenant and putative mate, and others hit the ball out of the park.

Mittal and Life of Pi's Sharma, as well as diminutive firecracker Amit, as their translator, do all that one could ask. Only complaint: the ending to this feelgood film is too abrupt as, even at more than two hours, it never feels too long.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Disney. Colour by deluxe.
124 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 26 Aug 2014