Movie Title: 42
Director: Brian Helgeland
Date Released: April 12th, 2013
Date Seen: April 13th, 2013
Part 1 – Spoiler Free Quickie Review
This movie follows the story of Jackie Robinson – as he makes history becoming the first black man to play in “white” baseball. The movie follows his rise from playing in the black leagues, to moving up to the white minor leagues, and eventually to playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The movie shows us some historic moments in Jackie Robinson’s history – beyond that, such as a hug with teammate Pee Wee Reese, racism from other teams and townspeople, etc.
All in all the movie is a story about an incredible man – that falls short of what it could have been. The movie feels more like a biography than an inspiring sports movie. Yes, there are inspiring moments, of course. But when I go to see a movie like this, I want to leave feeling elevated, happy, inspired, etc. all the way through. I don’t feel that way in the whole movie. Again, yes, there are moments when it happens but the movie didn’t keep me engaged and I found it dragging on.
The acting in this movie was INCREDIBLE. Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson did an amazing job. He could show that emotion of wanting to react to racists, people yelling, etc. but trying to hide it very well. It was great. Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, the MLB executive who decides to put Jackie in the game. It was weird seeing him play his own age for once – an old man – but dang did he do it well. That’s not surprising. One standout was Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman, a racist team manager. He is so scary and disgusting in this part but he plays it off great. I love Alan Tudyk though, so I could be slightly biased thinking that he did a great job. All the other players were also great. My favorite was Jesse Luken as Eddie Stanky (who, coincidentally has a little spout with Alan Tudyk’s character). He was a character you could really see grow and develop, even with little camera time on him.
All in all, it’s a good movie, and I’d recomend you go see it. I was only disappointed in the fact that it wasn’t as “feel-good”/”inspiring” as other movies, such as Remember the Titans (my favorites sports movie of all time).
Part 2 – In Depth Spoiler Ridden Review/Synopsis
The movie basically just follows Jackie Robinsons life from the time he is asked to be on the team to the end of his first season with the Dodgers. Time is measured most easily by the dates they tell you (ha) and the proposing to the wife/wife becoming pregnant/baby born/etc. I like that subtle way of measuring time, as opposed to the telling you exact dates all the time. But it’s helpful to have both. We see Jackie get broken down by a number of people, but never fighting back, despite threats to his life, his wife’s life, and his childs life. We see him break down once, but pick himself right back up. We see him over come a number of obstacles and eventually make it to taking his team to the World Series.
I had two scenes I really enjoyed. It’s not the big “finish” at the end, when they win the game and are going to the World Series. That scene I actually can hardly remember it was so lack luster. The scenes that stand out in my mind are the scene with Ben Chapman yelling slurs at Jackie as he tries to hit, causing him to break down, and the scene with Pee Wee Reese. Both those scenes make a lasting impression in your brain. You’re conflicted with yourself because you want Jackie to fight back because the people are such jerks, but at the same time, you don’t want him to fight back because you know he’s better than that. It’s very conflicting and I like that about those scenes. The Pee Wee Reese scene was a great scene for showing the mob mentality and how what your born in can shape you. One little boy and his father, seemingly from Pee Wee Reese’s nearby hometown, are talking about how they can’t wait to see Reese play, and how many runs do you think he’ll make, etc. When Jackie comes on the field, everyone (white) starts booing him, and yelling slurs at him. The little boy, who is maybe 10, looks around slightly confused at what he should do, so he just joins in telling that “nigger to get off the field”. It was a shocking moment you weren’t expecting. Then when Reese goes and hugs Jackie a few moments later, I’d like to think that the kid is having a deep moment of realization at what is going on. But we never find out, ah well. It was still a great scene – and wouldn’t have been as great if it weren’t for that disturbing and unexpected incident.