Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?,” asks Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) “No. I want a player with the guts NOT to fight back,” replies Rickey in the dramatic film 42. 42 tells the life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the late 1940s.
In 1946, General Manager Branch Rickey shocked baseball and the world by bringing up Jackie Robinson from the minor colored leagues and eventually signing him to play with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking Major League’s infamous color line. Facing racism from the fans, members of the press, other teams, and his own teammates, Jackie had to find a way to bury his emotions and not respond to insults and bigotry knowing that any incident would ruin his hopes – along with Rickey’s – of being accepted. Instead, he had to let his amazing talent on the field speak for itself.
Having only his loving and devoted wife, Rachel (Nicole Beharie), to lean on and Rickey to trust, Jackie Robinson slowly began to win over some of the fans and a few of his teammates with his incredible talent and drive to win.
Crowd-pleasing and the first feel-good movie of 2013, 42 is sure to have the audience applauding and cheering in their seats. This is a fun, inspirational film with a stand-out performance by Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. At times almost disappearing into the role of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Rickey, Ford delivers one of his best performances as the gruff, determined and visionary baseball owner who was committed to changing baseball forever by introducing an African-American to the league – just because it was the right thing to do. He not only steals every scene he’s in but is absolutely the best thing about the picture.
Chadwick Boseman delivers a solid performance as Jackie Robinson, the young great ballplayer who was known for his base-running and at times his quick temper. Boseman does a great job of re-creating some of the famous base-stealings that Robinson became so well known for in the world of baseball. Nicole Beharie is pitch-perfect as Robinson’s loyal and loving wife Rachel and has some very sweet and tender scenes with Boseman as well as good chemistry.
The film’s production design is fantastic and captures wonderfully the look and feel of the late 1940s in America. The cars, clothes, roads, and radio broadcasts all bring back to life an era lost so long ago.
Although at times coming close to being too sweet and nostalgic, 42 is a film that tells the true story of an American icon with just the right mixture of charm, drama and emotion and will have the audience standing and applauding as the credits roll.
42 hits theaters on April 12, 2013 and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements including language.
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