Today we're going to look at two sports flicks that have come out recently that aren't exactly the second coming of Moneyball. The first, Draft Day, is a fictional behind-the-scenes look of an NFL team - in this case, the hard-losing Cleveland Browns - whose General Manager, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) gets the opportunity to trade for the #1 pick in the draft, just hours before one of the most celebrated sporting events in the United States goes live. He's under pressure from the owner (Frank Langella), his former championship-winning coach (Dennis Leary), and even his mother (Ellen Burstyn) to make a splash for a team and a city that have been suffering an epic Super Bowl drought. It's a lot of pressure on one man, who only wants the chance to build a team of his own and see what can be done.
|"You can't let them in here! They'll... they'll see the big board!"|
|Hey, I didn't know the Browns were interested in drafting Jackie Robinson.|
Million Dollar Arm, which had all the potential in the world as a sports tale based on a true story, before Disney got its hooks in it. On the surface, the tale of a down-on-his-luck sports agent (John Hamm) who travels to India to recruit Cricket players as potential Major League baseball players seems like JUST the idea a clever storyteller brings to the big screen. In practice... well, if you were offended by the whitewashing and "white savior" controversy that was The Help, then you haven't seen anything until you see White People Problems: The Sports Flick.
As far as acting goes, this movie has a ton of talent. Hamm transitions smoothly from TV, and while he's certainly helped by his square jaw and gruff demeanor, he shows a range that may surprise you if you havent' yet gotten around to watching Mad Men. He's also surrounded by a strong supporting cast, including The Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma and Slumdog Millionaire's Madhur Mittal as the two young athletes the agent recruits, Lake Bell as his neighbor/love interest, and Bill Paxton and Aasif Mandvi in smaller roles. Hindi star Pitobash steals many a scene as a young baseball fanatic, and while Alan Arkin tends to play the exact same character these days, you can't discount his presence or entertainment value whenever he's on the screen. In all, gun-for-hire director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Fright Night) gets excellent performances from his talented team. Unfortunately, that's where this movie's upside just about dries up.
|I was feeling like Arkin when I saw this, too.|
|The Daily Show auditions ran a little late...|
|"Urge to kill... rising..."|