Reviewer's Rating: ★★★1/2
“42” is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play American Major League Baseball. Starring Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ president and general manager, this film looks at the two years following Robinson’s entrance into the league in 1947.
The Good Stuff: “42” is a terrific film. It’s light-hearted at times and heart-wrenching at other times. Boseman is exceptional as Robinson, easily transitioning from the excitement of achieving his dream as a Major League baseball player to the heaviness of the racial injustice that accompanies it. Even though Boseman hasn’t done many movies, he’s definitely someone to look out for in the future.
Not to be overlooked, Ford is also phenomenal as Branch Rickey. He plays the old, grumpy Brooklyn Dodgers president perfectly. The charisma that made him an action icon in the ’80s easily shines through in this film. He steals nearly every scene in which he appears.
The Annoying Stuff: Because “42” is only a snippet of Jackie Robinson’s life, many important aspects were seemingly left out or diminished in order to tell a concise story. His treatment as the only black American Major League baseball player in the mid-1940s, even Robinson’s own inner struggles with the idea of carrying the hopes and dreams of an entire people, were not touched on as deeply as one would hope. This doesn’t make “42” a bad film. It’s just not necessarily as powerful as it could have been.
The Final Verdict: “42” is the kind of movie that I want to take my kids to see. The strength, determination and dignity of Jackie Robinson is an inspiration. The fact that this movie thoughtfully pays homage to a man who made such a great impact on American history -- not just black history -- is well worth the price of admission alone. Is this the best biopic ever made? No. Is it better than most of the films at the box office today? Absolutely.