The true story of an American legend
42 is a 2013 biographical sports drama film directed by Brian Helgeland, written by Brian Helgeland, produced by Legendary Pictures, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based off of Jackie Robinson's breaking of the baseball color barrier in 1947. It stars Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards.
"You give me a uniform...you give me a number on my back...and I'll give you the guts." - Jackie Robinson
When Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey breaks the color barrier by bringing black baseball player Jackie Robinson into the major leagues, extreme racism and public opinion try to stop #42 on his path to greatness.
My Favorite Part of 42
42 is a different kind of movie. My dad called it "the Hidden Figures of sports", and while that comparison is understandable, I don't quite agree with it. If you know anything about sports, you probably know who Jackie Robinson is. Everyone knew this story. Everyone has heard of Robinson breaking the color barrier, but 42 frames it in a different way to make it relatable, infuriating, and inspirational by the end. It is a powerful movie that exposes so many flaws of America back then while showing how Robinson overcame all this adversity.
My Least Favorite Part of 42
I do think this film does a few things wrong. It definitely Hollywood-izes this story, which most biopics do, but I think that it feels weird with 42 because everyone already knows Jackie Robinson's struggle and how he overcame it. The big monologues and somewhat melodramatic moments don't hit as hard because you actually know that they didn't happen. While I think this does a great job of paying tribute to Robinson and showing how his life changed baseball as well as America, it still can feel like a work of fiction because of these Hollywood-esc moments.
Why 42 Works
Most biopics aim to tell stories you don't know or present the hidden tale behind the scenes of a story you already did know. 42 does neither of those. It goes over Jackie Robinson's life and what happened, despite all of that already being public knowledge. It works because the story is told with incredible pathos and an inspiring sense of fighting back in the most peaceful way possible. It lets the powerful aspect of Jackie Robinson wash over you and seep into your mind. By the end, you will feel something, and that's a really important thing for this movie to have achieved.
Final Thoughts and Score
42 gives us an old-fashioned, inspiring look at one of sports' most famous names in a powerful flick that is a few flaws away from great.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 9+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 8/10
Directed by Brian Helgeland
Rated PG-13 for disturbing themes and images, language, thematic elements
Released on April 12, 2013
2 hours and 8 minutes
Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson
Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey
Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson
Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher
Ryan Merriman as Dixie Walker
Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese
Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman
André Holland as Wendell Smith
Hamish Linklater as Ralph Branca
Brad Beyer as Kirby Higbe
Jesse Luken as Eddie Stanky
Brett Cullen as Clay Hopper
John C. McGinley as Red Barber