MOVIE REVIEW: 42 (2013)Posted: April 22, 2013
Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Andre Holland
Director: Brian Helgeland
When I first saw the trailer for 42 I thought, “Hey that’s a good trailer!” And when I left the theater after seeing the movie I thought, “Hey that’s a good movie!”
42 is emotional and uplifting, and I loved the cast and the pacing of the movie. At times it felt like a ‘made for TV’ movie when the music swelled every time a character said something insightful or profound, but otherwise it’s a solid movie.
This movie mostly focuses on Jackie’s (Boseman) 1947 rookie year with the Brooklyn Dodgers and all of the racism and hardships that he endured. His personal life rarely sees any screen time- occasionally we’ll see his supportive wife Rachel at his baseball games and there were a few scenes of the Robinsons at home with their baby son. If you were hoping for insight on Robinson outside of the baseball field, no luck here. This movie is strictly about the beginning of his pro career.
It would be safe to say that this movie is less about Jackie Robinson and more about Branch Rickey (Ford) and his efforts to curb the strong racial tensions that resulted from Robinson signing with the Dodgers. Harrison Ford gives a great performance as the restless, frustrated, and compassionate Branch Rickey and I enjoyed his scenes with Robinson. He never pretended to understand the pain that Jackie endured but he did his best to create an environment where Robinson could flourish and showcase his extraordinary talent.
Chadwick Boseman will definitely earn recognition for his portrayal of Jackie Robinson. Boseman had some really good scenes, especially the scene where he smashed his bat after he became fed up with relentless taunting from Ben Chapman, the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Actually, the entire scenario between Robinson and Chapman was hard to stomach, from the constant racial slurs from Chapman to the heartfelt sadness and anger from Robinson.
I’ll admit that I have watched very few sports movies, and some critics have called 42 a ‘formulaic, by the book’ sports movie. That may be true, but I can’t say for sure. I do know that this movie is passionate and very respectful to Jackie Robinson’s legacy and time seemed to fly by as I watched it. I left the theater with a smile on my face and a deep appreciation for a man who simply said, “I just want to win.”