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Hollywood's Next Attempts at Sports Films

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

‘Million Dollar Arm’ and ‘Draft Day’ are the newest sports features, but will they score?

Hollywood's Next Attempts at Sports Films

Sports movies are always difficult to pull off. The drama that is culled from sports is so dramatic because it unfolds in real time. There's nothing staged about it, nothing pre-produced or directed. It all just plays out during the flow of the game, where unpredictable things come in. There's a reason for the cliché "Hollywood couldn't write a script like this," during incredible moments, because they really can't.

But that doesn't mean they stop trying. Two new trailers dropped this week for the latest attempts at box office glory in the area of sports films. Let's take a look at the competition below:

Million Dollar Arm

Jon Hamm stars as struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein, who is extremely handsome but down on his luck. Then, after watching a televised cricket match, he gets the idea to look for baseball talent among cricket players. He stages the 'Million Dollar Arm' contest to attract the top cricket talent in an attempt to get them to play baseball. Lake Bell, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Aasif Mandvi and Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma also star.

This was, by all accounts, a failed experiment. Two players came over and were a part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization briefly before getting let go by the organization. One still pitches internationally to mixed success, while the other has moved on to the javelin. But hey, they got a contract with an MLB team, so let's make a movie out of it! Even though I love both Jon Hamm and Lake Bell, this looks more like a swing-and-a-miss than a home run. #SportsPunz

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/EiC8o7i_ZqE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Grade: C-

Draft Day

While Moneyball was riddled with some gaping holes that a knowledgable baseball fan could see through (Scott Hatteberg wasn't the reason the Oakland Athletics won 103 games in 2002. That would be Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder), it was still very effective because it was subtle movie. It was well paced and featured very strong performances from Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. 

Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner as the GM of the Cleveland Browns who apparently doesn't think like everyone else (see Beane, Billy), looks like a much more brash approach to Moneyball. Costner has the support of his lady friend (Jennifer Garner) but must navigate the tricky waters of the old, demanding owner (Frank Langella), a disgruntled team led by head coach Denis Leary and quarterback Tom Welling, and the sports media (with cameos by all the regular ESPN football analysts). Ivan Reitman is the director, and while he has given us classics like Ghostbusters, Stripes, Twins and Kindergarten Cop, he really hasn't made a solid film since Dave in 1993 (though I have a soft spot for Evolution). Judging from the look of this trailer, I don't know if this one is going to succeed either.  

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/K3SlVsdUuBY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Grade: D+

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