Million Dollar Arm

You’d never guess this Disney sports drama was scripted by Thomas McCarthy, writer-director of such meaty independent releases as The Visitor (2007) and Win Win (2011); it’s a completely by-the-numbers affair about a sports-marketing agent (Jon Hamm) who sets out to recruit major-league baseball players from India but learns the sturdy lesson that sports should be fun instead of an exercise in moneygrubbing. The story is encrusted with formula: the cute young doctor (Lake Bell) who rents the hero’s backyard apartment and appears on cue to offer one-liners and life advice, the cranky old baseball scout (Alan Arkin) who comes along to India and rips on everyone in sight, the wide-eyed teenagers with good arms (Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal) who journey to America and get into trouble like naughty children. The movie was inspired by the real-life experiences of agent J.B. Bernstein, but the story stretches all the way back to Disney’s Jan-Michael Vincent comedy The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973). Craig Gillespie directed; with Aasif Mandvi and Bill Paxton.