7.6/10 – IMDb
79% – Rotten Tomatoes
This one just turned a year old a few weeks ago, but the Red Sox are making me sad lately, so I needed something to remind me that baseball can be fun and uplifting. The story of Jackie Robinson is an important one in the history of baseball and of the United States, but I was not sure what to expect with 42. How could such a big story fit into a frame of a little over two hours? Could one man (Chadwick Boseman) adequately fill the shoes of an icon? How many questions could I ask in a row?
Should I pay to see it?
The movie is of course out of theaters, but it will have a strong television presence for the foreseeable future. You won’t regret spending a few dollars to purchase it, but I would not go out of my way to watch it, unless you seek to teach someone unfamiliar with the story through the film. All that being said, the movie is solid as a whole, gritty and realistic in its focus on Robinson’s struggle to rise to the majors rather than glorifying his later accomplishments. Boseman (who is also playing James Brown this summer) and Harrison Ford deliver memorable performances, but there is not much story about which to get excited. Director Brian Helgeland did well not to turn dark moments too “Hollywood,” but the result is a tale of redemption that will not overjoy.
Could I watch it with a date?
If you can dream it, you can do it, but I wouldn’t. Each part is well-acted, with Lucas Black playing pivotal Pee Wee Reese and Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson, a vital part of the Jackie Robsinson narrative in the movie and in real life. The in-game action is about as good as you can expect for baseball, an awkward sport to create artificially, but the movie is as much about Robinson’s courage as it is about his athletic prowess, his maturation into a man with “the guts NOT to fight back.” There are some memorable quotes and satisfying moments as Robinson makes bigoted coaches, players, and spectators look foolish, but unless you and your special person both have a love for our national pastime and its history your time is better spent elsewhere.
Could I watch it with my mother?
First things first, Christopher Meloni is in this movie. It is in the Geneva Convention that all mothers love Law and Order: SVU, so chances are yours will at least enjoy the parts of the movie including Detective Stabler. Besides that, similar to the previous answer, 42 is not a bad choice for family fun night, but it’s not the best one. Robinson’s story has resonated with generations of fans, and if you are a baseball-loving family (If you’re not, you should be. Communists.) it will be a delight to commemorate baseball’s foremost pioneer through the movie. Younger generations are not quite as closely in tune with the discrimination that plagued our sports and society, so beware mothers using this movie as a platform to outline children’s ignorance.
One can only hope Robinson will remain at the forefront of fans’ minds for years to come. He changed the game and the sports world forever, and that should never be discounted. As people like Michael Sam strive to open up our society more and more, we should treasure the stories of past barrier-breaking triumphs. We as human beings don’t always get it right, but at least we’ve got people like Robinson to restore our faith in forward progress.