Review - 42

42 (2013), PG-13, 128 minutes - I've had a love for the the game of baseball for as long as I can remember.  And because of that, I've been looking forward to this film since last winter when I saw the teaser trailer about one of baseball's most legendary figures: Jackie Robinson.  It has been my experience that just about everyone knows the name and why he was significant, but for those that don't, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball back on April 15, 1947.

Much like Lincoln last winter, 42 is a biopic that focuses on a short period of Robinson's life, from late 1945 through the end of the 1947 season.  It opens with Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) declaring his intent to 'bring a negro to the Dodgers'.  His reasoning is simple he says, money isn't black or white, it's green and it all spends the same.  He realizes how shocking this move will be to not only the league but the country and begins pouring over scouting reports trying to find the right man.  One that is both a quality player and an equally strong person.  Many are considered before he settles on Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), a Negro League ballplayer with a social conscience who was a multi-sport standout at UCLA.  We then get a glimpse into Rickey's and Robinson's initial meeting before watching Robinson's trials and tribulations as he sets out to bring Rickey's plan to fruition.

The cast of 42 is led by very strong performances from Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, but is supported by a slew of familiar faces in nice smaller roles (Christopher Meloni, Lucas Black, Alan Tudyk, John C. McGinley, Toby Huss).  From everything that I've seen on film of Jackie Robinson, Boseman absolutely nailed the role, right down to Robinson's unique running style.  Harrison Ford tends to be one of those actor's that has a reputation for just showing up and not truly acting in many of his films, but this time around he really sells the head strong, forward thinking, rebellious, but tender, caring man that Branch Rickey was.  Alan Tudyk's performance as uber-racist opposing manager Ben Chapman is especially strong and shocking.  Considering Tudyk's nice guy reputation, the impact of his slur-spewing turn is especially eye opening.  Nicole Beharie (Rachel Robinson) and Andre Holland (Wendell Smith) aren't as familiar to me as others in the cast, but they give very good performances as well.  I wish that they had both gotten more screen time.

Knowing that there were events too numerous to show in a two hour film, I felt that writer/director Brian Helgeland did a pretty good job of showing us a good mix from those couple of years that portrayed both highs and lows not only for Jackie, but his wife Rachel and his teammates as well.  There were two scenes in particular that really stood out to me which I'll elaborate on in the spoiler section below.

42 glosses over large portions of the seasons that it portrays, but with baseball having such long seasons (even back then), the movie would have been extremely long otherwise.  I do feel like they get the most bang for their buck out of the events that they chose to portray.  The baseball fan in me wishes that there were more actual baseball scenes, but that's a small nitpick considering the importance of the story being told.  It is an important story, not only for baseball, but for our country as a whole, and I am pleased that it received the treatment that it did.  42 is well worth checking out.  It has probably been bumped from most theaters by now for other bigger, shinier, summer films, but if you haven't seen it yet be sure to give it a look as a rental.


- As mentioned above, two scenes really stood out to me: the scene in which Jackie's teammate stood up for him when he was being berated by Ben Chapman.  Afterward, when being thanked by Jackie, he says something along the lines of 'for what? You're my teammate.'  The other was the scene between Lucas Black's Pee Wee Reese and Harrison Ford's Branch Rickey when Reese was complaining about getting a threat from back home for playing with Jackie.  Rickey then pulls out multiple file folders full of the threats that Jackie had received, which put things in perspective for Reese.


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