42 movie poster Movie Review:


Brian Helgeland

Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black, Andre Holland, Alan Tudyk, Hamish Linklater, T.R. Knight, John C. McGinley

Baseball is the only sport I really like to watch, either on TV or at the ballpark, because I enjoy the strategy as well as the play. This translates to enjoyment, oddly enough, of baseball movies.

I also have a baseball my Uncle Steve found in Ebbets Field (before it was an apartment building!) that I hang on to as a keepsake of baseball and the old Brooklyn Dodgers. When I saw the first trailer for 42, I got really excited about it.

The movie starts with a nicely done montage, setting up the historical period and giving a good feel for where baseball fits in. It’s the return of baseball after World War II, now that the players have returned from serving their country.

Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) of the Brooklyn Dodgers organization has decided it’s time to integrate the sport of baseball. He chooses talented Jack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs from the Negro American League to be the man who breaks the color barrier.

Rickey brings Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to spring training in Florida, and sets him up with Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), a reporter from the Pittsburgh Courier. Wendell introduces himself as Jackie’s “Boswell”–his job is to chronicle Jackie’s life. Rickey understood just how important breaking the color barrier would be.

Rickey also knew that Robinson would need someone to help him get through all the times when he would be turned away from where the rest of the team was staying–hotels that wouldn’t have a black man as a guest. The movie shows Smith bringing Robinson to guest with various prominent members of the African-American community, who are proud to help out and be part of Jackie’s career.

I enjoyed this movie immensely. The baseball was fun. The performances were fantastic, with shout-outs to Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman, the racist manager of the Phillies; John C. McGinley as announcer Red Barber; Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson; Andre Holland as Wendell Smith; and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.

Why did I like this movie so much? Because it didn’t pull any punches or sugar-coat history. It showed the Dodgers manager being suspended for a year on trumped up charges to hurt the team because of Robinson. It showed unfair treatment. It showed an angry Robinson. It showed racism, and the casual acceptance of it. It showed unfair segregation and unreasonable hatred. And it showed some of the brave men and women who risked everything for change.

The feeling of the 1940s was spot on: clothes, cars, uniforms, stadiums. As well as the different way they played baseball then–it was a slower game, with more watching the ball to see where it would go, and less moving and running then today.

The where-are-they-now segment at the end of the film, talking about the ramifications of the events portrayed, had tears in my eyes.

Unreservedly recommended for anyone who likes baseball, costumers/cosplayers or those interested in fashion, or for everyone who is a human being who gives a damn about anything.