Latest reviews of new albums:
Million Dollar Arm
  • Composed by A.R. Rahman
  • Walt Disney Records / 2014 / 45m

Considering it’s the second most popular sport in the world, there really aren’t many films about cricket.  There’s something so curiously endearing about a sport where a commentator can say “he’s slogged that googly straight to silly point” or “the captain’s thrown down an over’s worth of filthy Chinamen” and it actually mean something, or where a hundred million tv viewers can be at the edge of their seats after five days’ play in a test match because their team might salvage a draw.  Anyway, Disney’s Million Dollar Arm sees John Hamm travel to cricket-mad India to try to recruit one of the country’s billion inhabitants to become the first professional Indian baseball player.  It’s a nice way of trying to sell a cricket film to the one country in the world least likely to fall in love with the gentleman’s game, and the film performed respectably enough on its release earlier in the year.  Not surprisingly, scoring duties fell to the Mozart of Madras, A.R. Rahman, who Time magazine claimed had sold over 150 million albums, which would put him level with Billy Joel and U2 (though their claim seems to be unverified).

This soundtrack album splits its time  equally between new songs by Rahman and his score.  If you are familiar with Slumdog Millionaire (as I believe most people are) then you know what to expect from the former: a wildly eclectic array of dance tunes with the occasional ballad.  The opening “Makhna” is lovely, the curious anthem “We Could Be Kings” pretty memorable,  the high energy levels in virtually all the songs are infectious, though there’s nothing that leaves the same impression as Slumdog‘s brilliant “Jai Ho”.  The score begins with the lovely “Bobbleheads”, gently strumming guitar and percussion accompanying the orchestra along with a very pretty Indian vocal.  It’s easy going, pleasant and tuneful and the remainder of the score very much follows suit.  The whole thing is absolutely charming, very similar in approach to Thomas Newman’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (suggesting the American composer did a pretty good job of getting the right tone).  The only real concession to what you might expect in a sports movie score comes right at the end, “The Final Pitch” travelling through some adrenaline-soaked drama to its soaring conclusion.  This is a really nice album – fun songs, pleasant and very listenable score.  One off the beaten track which is definitely worth checking out.

Rating: *** 1/2 | |

Tags: ,

  1. Christopher (Reply) on Tuesday 8 July, 2014 at 15:03

    I was hoping for a little more from this score. Give Rahman a lackluster comedy (COUPLES RETREAT) and he writes soaring melodies that are incredibly beautiful. Give him an “inspirational” sports film to score and he gives you SLUMDOG 2. I was really hoping this film would give him a chance to really let the orchestra fly. Even the finale cue underwhelmed me.

  2. David (Reply) on Monday 14 July, 2014 at 02:14

    Christopher: Listen to People Like Us. It’s a very Americana-esque score for Rahman. and he even wrote a country song for the end credits. Million Dollar Am is a sports film, but it takes place on India so it’s supposed to use indian instruments.