Fans of America’s greatest pastime can trace their whole lives through baseball. The idea of the game brings back memories of father and son catch sessions, and their first time sitting in the stands at a big league game. Other than life experience, movies capture that magic and spirit of the sport like nothing else. “42,” however, is a different kind of baseball movie. It highlights a darker side — not only of the game, but humanity as well. And how, through it all, one man emerged to become an American legend.
The story centers on Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the African-American ball player who entered the league when the unwritten rule of “whites only” was still the norm. In 1945, Brooklyn Dodger executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decided it was time to break baseball’s color barrier by signing Robinson to a minor league contract, which led to his eventual 1947 debut as the first African-American major leaguer.
The one thing this film does well is put the spotlight on the shocking effect of racism. From malicious taunts on the field to multiple death threats off it, Robinson is shown handling it all with grace and courage.
My biggest issue with “42” is that it’s billed as a biography, but does not live up to the label. A biopic should include someone’s whole life, including childhood. Even just showing us a piece of that childhood would make all the difference in the world. Google Robinson’s early life and you’ll find more than a few events that could have added to the story.
The performances were fine, nothing great. Harrison Ford dials up his “Cowboys and Aliens” voice, which sounds terrible regardless of whether or not he’s going for realism.
The Date Nighter Says: During this post-Oscar slump, you could do a lot worse. It’s not exactly a home run, but maybe a ground rule double?