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Thursday, November 27, 2014

MILLION DOLLAR ARM (2014)

Baseball pics are notorious hard sells at the box-office. But this one sputters along by sending Jon Hamm’s struggling sports agent to cricket-crazed India to hunt up Major League pitching prospects. Fact-based and foolproof, with plot beats courtesy of JERRY MAGUIRE/’96, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE/’08 and TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE/’12, if only everyone weren’t so gosh darn likeable. Heck, even their little falls from grace are only there to form a more perfect character arc. You can all but hear producer Joe Roth phoning in fuzzy development notes, like a prompter giving noisy cues at the opera. Only Alan Arkin, as a likeable curmudgeon of a scout, digs himself a little bit of free acting space. For the rest, Craig Gillespie might as well be megging on a doggie ‘choke leash.’

DOUBLE-BILL: Lake Bell, the film’s afterthought love interest, tears up watching Gary Cooper play Lou Gehrig in PRIDE OF THE YANKEES/’42. You’d cry too if someone made you watch it with the top & bottom of the image cropped to 1.85:1.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Bill Paxton, the boys' likeable baseball coach (natch), has looked precisely the same on screen for thirty years, topping Jean Arthur’s long held record.

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