A true story neatly reshaped by the Disney mill, Million Dollar Arm gathers a collection of reliable sports-movie chestnuts with a bit of Moneyball-style backroom negotiating for grit. The exotic touch here is a scenic trip to India, where desperate agent JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) treks to find a couple of baseball prospects in a country that doesn’t play the sport.
It’s a gimmick: JB’s staging the search for a reality-TV competition, and he’s convinced a backer that this stunt might have the benefit of attracting a billion new baseball fans from the subcontinent. The trip takes up the picture’s midsection, and is followed by JB’s attempt to get a USC coach (Bill Paxton) to turn these raw talents into pitchers. There must also be romance, which comes as workaholic JB pauses long enough in his conquest of cheerleader types to notice the plain-but-spunky doctor who lives in his guest house. This being Hollywood, “plain” is embodied by bodacious Lake Bell.