A desperate sports agent hunts for cricket players in India to hopefully become the next American baseball pitching stars. J.B. Bernstein is an agent who desperately needs to get a high-profile client. He and his partner, Aash, founded their own sports agency, but their best clients have grown old, and their best shot at a hot new signing, a football stud named Popo, declined their offer to sign with the big corporate agency instead. Out of money and nearly out of time, J.B. sees Aash watching cricket and gets an idea-- since cricket players throw a ball incredibly fast, they can potentially train cricket players to become major league pitchers. They find these players in India by holding a huge contest called Million Dollar Arm, where two winners get cash prizes and a trip to America to audition for real baseball teams. J.B. brings with him to India an elderly and grouchy scout named Poitevint, and along the way in India, he picks up an assistant named Amit, who works for free because he loves baseball so much. The early contest days are grim, but eventually they find two winners: Dinesh, a truck driver, and Rinku, a member of a huge family who trained as a javelin thrower. J.B. brings them back to America with him for the tryout (along with Amit), but they don't speak English and struggle in the big city. After they accidentally pull a fire alarm in their hotel, J.B. is forced to let them live with him. They grow fond of J.B., and they get to know Brenda, the nurse who rents a bungalow behind J.B.'s house. Dinesh and Rinku train with Tom House, a coach with unorthodox methods, and J.B.'s financial backer gives him strict instructions-- have them ready for their tryout in under a year, or funding will be pulled. As they train, J.B. learns that Popo may be interested in signing with him, so he begins to spend all of his time chasing Popo, neglecting Dinesh and Rinku. As a result, their progress stagnates. After Popo signs back with the big corporate company, he begins treating Dinesh, Rinku, and Amit like family, and they improve drastically. Brenda also becomes romantically involved with J.B. However, as their audition approaches for the majors, J.B. realizes they aren't ready, but it's about the money for him, so he sends them to their tryout, held in a strip mall parking lot before the eyes of millions on ESPN. Dinesh and Rinku, predictably, wilt under the pressure and unfamiliar circumstances, and the scouts dismiss J.B.'s experiment as a "stunt." His backer insists he send Dinesh and Rinku back and prepare another new season of Million Dollar Arm, but J.B. turns down the money in order to fight hard to get Dinesh and Rinku another shot. He finally, with the help of Poitevint, attracts a few major scouts to a second tryout, on their familiar training diamond at USC. He instructs Amit to give them an inspirational speech, and afterward, Dinesh and Rinku resolve to have fun while they pitch. They both are far more relaxed, and they pitch beautifully, both getting signed to the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming the first Indian players in any of the major professional American sports. J.B. remained romantically linked to Brenda, and they eventually conceive a child together.
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Best part of story, including ending:
This is a cliche-riddled sports story, but it is elevated by its strong script and terrific performances, most notably Lake Bell as Brenda.
Best scene in story:
When Poitevint goes to India, he closes his eyes through every tryout, and he can accurately tell the speed of the pitch by its sound. He opens his eyes for the first time when Dinesh pitches, and it's a great moment.
Opinion about the main character:
J.B. is a money-hungry typical sports agent, all about "the deal," but he eventually learns the error of his ways, which redeems him in the eyes of the audience.