director: Craig Gillespie
writer: Thomas McCarthy
starring: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi and Alan Arkin
genre: Biopic | Sports
released: May 16, 2014 (U.S.), June 12, 2014 (Greece), September 11, 2014 (Germany)
based on a true story: of sports agent J.B. Bernsteinand and his discovery of the first MLB Indian players
Having no clue of the film's plot and that it's based on a true story (not a baseball fan). I was afraid within the very first minutes that I was going to see a light Don Draper wannabe film. Most pleasantly it wasn't and instead it turned out to be another pleasant feel good film that could be considered this year's "Blind Side". Which is in its own right a double edged sword.
Sports agent J.B. (Jon Hamm) has been for two years struggling to keep his sports agency a float. With no clients, no feasible way to counter the competition and in desperate need of a big break.
He and his partner come up with the idea of finding the next big international baseball star from the one untapped market, India. This task considered almost impossible and ridiculous to the industry. Will change J.B. and his outlook on life and the future stars that he will find.
What could characterize this film best is its good feel plot and that its outcome feels natural to the film's development. Something few films get right when it comes to following their source material or the true life story they are based upon.
Hamm's role as the ultimate professional agent J. B. suits him well. Not only because of the part's similarity to his most famous role of Don Draper. But because Hamm is an ideal "every man". Not too fit, hansom or even nice. Which works best for the part and his connection to the young Indian baseball tryouts.
As a film buff I've seen a number of sports films and far too many baseball films. America has this incredible fascination with the sport and it does in a way symbolize and correlate to the most prestigious American dream. That almost anyone can succeed, no matter who they are or where they came from.
However the film focuses more on the dream factor for the tryouts J.B. has, rather than going on other plot threads that could be considered more interesting and dramatic. One path could have been to shed more light on the social economic problems India faces or the mass advertising benefits of having international players be in Major League Baseball.
But with the time constraints and following the story as closely as possible. The film still has that good feel vibe going for it and manages to make the arc of J.B. reasonable. It is that nice little package Disney can be proud of, but as mentioned it is also a double edged sword. As it will be one of those films that will be conveniently forgotten in the upcoming months, not years.
If you want to see Don Draper pitch ideas again, be in the sports industry and have a different name. Oh, and also have a lot less sex, nudity and drinking. Then you will be just fine with the decent feel good story, actor performances and insight to a subject we might not very well know. BASEBALL!