Movie Review – 42

42 posterThe story of a baseball legend. 42 examines the path and chronicles the first year of Jackie Robinson‘s first year in Major League Baseball. The story isn’t just about him. Much of the story focuses on Branch Rickey’s quest to integrate baseball.

In 42, Rickey (Harrison Ford) gets it in his head that the time has come to integrate Baseball. We see snippets of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) playing in the Negro League but the focus is on Rickey and his staff. He knows he can do it he just needs the right player and the right time. After Robinson means with Rickey we get a bit more into his personal life. We see his phone proposal to his future wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) With Rachel being from Pasadena the white only bathrooms and signs are foreign to her and they make a point to show how while Jackie is aware of this and understands this, his wife is not and her “breaking the law” has consequences.

Rickey knows he has to get everyone on board with bringing Jackie to the team. Having him in the Montreal minors seems to transition a bit better than it does when he gets to the Dodgers. 42 makes it a point to let you know not everyone was so willing to accept Jackie. His teammates took a long time to come around, some even asked to be traded and those who refused to come around were indeed traded away. You do start to loose a sense of time as the season goes on. Jackie & Rachel have a son, — there’s lots of continuity errors here as the baby changes in size from an infant to a toddler back and forth – otherwise the movie flows. We get some shots of when the family moves to Brooklyn (shot a few blocks down from my old home) Their living conditions and the neighbors around them much different from what they experienced during spring training in Florida but somewhat similar to their lives in California.

Its stressed throughout the film that Jackie Robinson was picked not only for his skills but because Rickey wanted someone who could handle the level of abuse they would take. The exchange where Jackie asks if you want me to fight back? And Branch responses I want someone with the courage not to fight back. We see Jackie struggle with staying silent, and how it effects him. There’s one scene when Jackie is up to bat and takes a round of verbal abuse from the Phillies manager (Alan Tudyk) that is really, hard to sit through. While the amount of racial slurs is not as massive as in Django Unchained, they are here and the are said not as casually as common conversation of the day they are filled with hate so the force behind it can be felt. Its a jarring feeling and most likely the reason for the PG-13 rating. If you take your teens to see 42 its a great change to open a dialog about the hatred of the moment and explore feelings. This movie makes Jackie look like an outside into his own life. he’s constantly seen apart from everyone else. This movie is more about Branch Rickey than Jackie Robinson.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some funny moments in the film. 42 has a few areas where it is laugh out loud funny. The audience chuckled in a few places. And gasped in others. The commentary in the background during games by the announcer Red Barber (John C. McGinley) definitely provides some of that. I give this movie a full price. Its moving and it tells a story not all about Jackie but also about the man who was instrumental in breaking the color line from the office. 2 also stars Christopher Meloni, T.R. Knight, Hamish Linklater, and Andre Holland.

Director: Brian Helgeland
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: April 12, 2013
Run time: 2 hours 8 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
My Rating: Full Price

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