Saturday, April 13, 2013

"42"




“42” PG-13
Warner Bros.
4 Stars

Baseball has been around for more than a hundred years.  Movies about baseball have not been around that long but there are many films that use the sport as a central theme. 

I do have a bias to claim at this point, I am a huge baseball fan, so any film that uses baseball as a background already has a good start.  That being said I do not like every baseball film but “42” is one I love.  

There are good baseball movies like “The Bad News Bears, “Major League” and “Angels in the Outfield.” Then there are great movies that have baseball in them such as “Field of Dreams, “The Natural and “The Rookie.”  “42” falls in the latter category.  

This is the story of Jackie Robinson and how he broke the color barrier in baseball.  Robinson was a letterman athlete at UCLA in 4 sports, baseball, basketball, football, and track.  He was also the first person to accomplish the feat.  

After a stint in the military, Robinson was playing baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues.  While there he was a star shortstop hitting very well and making it to the All-Star game in 1945.  The schedule was very hectic and did not allow Robinson to communicate well with his then girlfriend Rachel Isum, who he met at UCLA.

In the meantime the General Manager of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, was looking to sign an African-American player to the organization in Brooklyn.  He noticed Robinson’s statistics and brought him to his New York office to discuss the situation.

This meeting is only a part of the film that stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Rickey.  Both actors did their homework for this film, making each character believable and relatable for the audience.  Ford did a wonderful job of taking on Rickey’s persona and using a much different voice than his own.  It is probably too early but Ford should get a nomination for his work in this film.

This film does try to hold true to the history behind the story.  As a result, there are some truths that parents will have to deal with if they take kids to see this film.  First of all is the use of the “N” word.  People used that word quite a bit in the 40’s and it is used a lot in the film.  Its use comes in spurts depending on the scene and what is happening.  There is other language in the film but it does not come close the use of racial slurs.  

There is some violence in the film.  Many players did not want Robinson to be in baseball and they tried to scare him physically by throwing at him and spiking him.  There are many threats portrayed in the film both verbal and written.

Overall though, the most important things parents should consider are the messages in this film.  Not only is there a wonderful display of how discrimination hurts society as a whole, but you will also see why a person should believe in themselves.  Plus there are great examples of courage and standing up for what is right despite what others might think.

So if you are considering that you might not like this film because it is about baseball.  Consider that this film is not only about baseball but how baseball has helped to form that society into what it is today. 

This is not just a great baseball movie but a great story on its own.

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