Remember Saving Mr Banks, wow. Weren’t we amazed by the dramatic tone and the great performances and the more mature themes? Well I was really excited because in my mind it signalled the start of a new era for Disney, it looked as if they could now start to make serious dramatic films with a bit of charm that would stop them becoming unfriendly to children but also more appealing to adults at the same time. This appears to be the second in that line.
I really wasn’t sure to think of this film going into it. The trailer made it look more like Slumdog Millionaire, but the premise is more like some traditional Disney inspirational sports film. The film follows a failing sports agent whose competitors are tapping into the Asian sport market. As the agent watches cricket and Britain’s Got Talent the idea hits him to find some promising Indian cricket players and introduce them to the US of A market and turn them into professional baseball players. It does seem a bit strange, but amazingly it’s a true story. I suppose it has to be for a story like this.
I’ll start by talking about the best thing about the film. It has to be Jon Ham in the lead role. He brings such a great amount development and balancing both of the lifestyles. At the start of the film it’s all money and models, luxury and limousines. But of course as the film goes on he has to become desperate, but not in a way that doesn’t suit the character. A man who cares so much about his appearance is not going to resort to grovelling. He gives a feeling of desperation but not without losing his own idea of dignity. The way that he connects with his humanity is also really believable and nice to watch.
Some of the side characters are very nice as well. He’s accompanied by a grumpy old Baseball scout, who’s great on his own. He also has an eager young assistant who’s great as well. Together they are immensely enjoyable, bouncing off of each other and clashing as often as possible not to disrupt their partnership.
That’s the good stuff, now moving on to the not so good stuff. Like I said before the plot is your typical inspirational Disney sport’s story. I don’t want to spoil it but I’ll let you work it out for yourself. What are the main ingredients for this kind of film, underdog meets failing professional, they work together, and no one thinks they can succeed but… see what I mean. You know what’s going to happen in the end you can see everything as it unfolds in terms of the plot. If you want something to surprise you in terms of story and unique abilities in telling it then you will certainly not find it here.
But there are some elements that make the film feel unique though. The fish out of water story is told in two different ways. Firstly we see the agent become the fish in the Indian landscape, and with his two sidekicks constantly arguing with him it’s easy to find the humour enjoyable. Then rather cleverly the scenario is switched, the Indian kids are then really out of their depth as they are introduced to the American world. This means we have a great clash of cultures and difference of perspective, like how different people pf different cultures react to different out-of-comfort-zone-situations, and how out-of-comfort-zone-situations treat people of different cultures.
The end result is quite a slick, nicely humoured and rather heartfelt story. If you hate clichés then by all means avoid this film. I would love to say that you can ignore them but some are just way too predictable to ignore, because you end up predicting to film. The true heart of this film lies within the dialogue and character interactions, as well as some great performances. In a simple way, it’s charming.