42

26 Apr

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Synopsis: Hero is a word we hear often in sports, but heroism is not always about achievements on the field of play. “42” tells the story of two men—the great Jackie Robinson and legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey—whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball.

Cast

Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson),

 Harrison Ford (Branch Rickey),

 Nicole Beharie (Rachel Robinson),

 Christopher Meloni (Leo Durocher),

 Ryan Merriman (Dixie Walker),

 Lucas Black (Pee Wee Reese),

Andre Holland (Wendell Smith),

 Alan Tudyk (Ben Chapman),

Hamish Linklater (Ralph Branca),

 T. R. Knight (Harold Parrott)

 and John C. McGinley (Red Barber).

Review: 42, written and directed by Brian Helgeland, is a glossy, well presented, old fashion, reverential, bio of the first major league great, to break the color barrier, Jackie Robinson. The year is post WWII, 1947 America. The Americans are home from war and baseball is “white” America’s national pastime. A young Jackie Robinson plays in the “Negro” leagues, and as talented as he was, back then, there would be no future for him in the majors.  Along comes Brooklyn Dodgers GM, Branch Rickey, played by Harrison Ford and the rest is history.

Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Rickey was honest, passionate and his love for baseball is apparent. His face lights-up when he discusses the game. Rickey understands in order to make money and fill the seats, he must bring up young talent in order to win the coveted pennant. He also understands that in order to do so he must recruit a player from the Negro Leagues. Even when his own staff disagreed him the search begins and it is Jackie Robinson he chooses.

Chadwick Boseman, new to films, brings life to Robinson. We see how much he loves the game and how devoted he is to his wife, Rachel. It is through her faith in him as well as Rickey’s that helps him through the bigotry and hatred he is to face in the majors.

The script tends to gloss over the real pain and anguish Robinson must have felt, and instead, looks at the bigger picture of Robinson’s contribution as the first black American to break through Major League Baseball’s color barrier. When the music swells, or the emotions flair, you know something important is happening, and you get swept up in the myth behind the probable reality. The only draw-back to this is that you never really get a sense of the inner man. That said Boseman does a pitch perfect job, no pun intended.

Nicole Beharie plays Rachel Robinson, a devoted wife, and mother. The story of the Robinsons romance is very sweet and the love they share is at times is so strong, you cry when she does, feel exuberance when she does and understand her concerns. Beharie does this very well in spite, again, of a slick Hollywood script. Even with her, you don’t get a real sense of who she is inside.

Throughout the film, bigotry is shown with liberal use of the “n” word, white bathrooms vs. colored only bathrooms, and fellow ball players losing their jobs over their prejudices. However, rather than portray this in a gritty, realistic manner, the filmmakers chose to give us the cliff note, high school version, of real events.

As history proved Jackie Robinson not only broke the color barrier, but was admired and revered by adults and children. He was a great player and as Branch Rickey points out, “It’s not about what color your skin is all they see is a great ball player.”

Overall the film had the potential to be a really memorable bio, in the end although you do get swept up in the emotional impact of the story, and it’s cultural message, a message that in today’s world, is sorely been missed, the film only scored a triple when it should have been a home run.

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