Director: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman
With baseball season just starting up again for the year, what better way to get into the spirit then with the release of a biopic centering around one of baseball’s greatest players, Jackie Robinson? 42 did a great job showing us not just the man Robinson was on the field, but off the field as well. It is a film that gives equal screen time to the history aspect of the story and to pure entertainment also. Baseball fan or not, this film is perfectly enjoyable for anybody.
Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) first makes his way into white man’s baseball when he begins playing for the Montreal Royals, a minor league team. And man, does he make a statement, famous for stealing bases and for his raw speed. The following year he is signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), becoming the first African American to be a part of Major League Baseball. This is no easy undertaking as both baseball fans and players resist the movement towards integration of the sport.
This movie is not just a sports movie. This movie truly shows the beginnings of the civil rights movement in a setting which happens to be baseball. Boseman is wonderful as Jackie Robinson, they even have the same facial structure and is everything you would expect a man like Robinson to be: strong-willed, confident, hard…but at the same time a man in love with his wife, who he looks to for support, a man who sobs when the blatant prejudice is too much. Ford does great as Branch Rickey, a man of God who is just looking to improve the sport he loves so much by integrating it. He is almost the caricature of a baseball team manager, with enormous cigar, bow tie, gravelly voice and all. The acting is great (seriously wanted to punch some of the actors in the face during especially heated and blatantly racist moments), the story is great, the look of the movie itself is great.
Anyways, this film was not just about being strong in the face of opposition, but about standing up for what is right. It was really moving to see how the teammates of Robinson changed and began to stand up for him more and more as the movie progressed, with the exception of one player, Dixie Walker (Ryan Merriman). He pretty much stays a racist D-bag the whole time, but that just shows that although Robinson’s presence in baseball couldn’t completely change the entire country at once, he set the wheels in motion for change to happen.
I can’t really find anything to complain about in this movie. It embodied the nastiness of racism, the unique atmosphere of baseball, and the unyielding character of a man in a clear-cut way that is very easy to follow along and will engage your emotions as well.