Ask any one of my close friends and they will tell you I am not a sports fan by any means. In fact, baseball is probably my least favorite sport out there. Please don't get me wrong. I honestly don't think there's anything wrong with major league baseball. It's just isn't my cup of tea and never has been. Seeing 42 was the first time in my life I've ever thought about possibly converting in to a full fledged, jersey wearing, season ticket holding sports nut. The film introduced me to something I've never known existed, the real heart of baseball. The film showcases the racial barriers that were tearing the sports world apart while also examining the brotherhood of being a team. Although the language is strong and period specific, this film can teach younger kids an important lesson about acceptance and diversity.
As 42 tells the story of Jackie Robinson and his early years in major league baseball, the real star of this game is Branch Rickey. Without Rickey's mindful dedication to the sport, Robinson may have never been noticed and major league baseball might still be in the dark ages. Harrison Ford stars as Rickey, bringing us his best and most unique role in years. In 42, Ford isn't just reading lines or cashing a paycheck, he takes the lead as an American hero that changed the face of baseball forever. Other than his franchise films, I can't remember him ever being this good. Chadwick Boseman stars as Jackie Robinson with a certain flair for the character, but he struggles at times to capture the emotional depth of such an icon. Through those turbulent years, America was experiencing the growing pains of racial equality. Sadly, I never felt that Boseman fully emotes that tension in a realistic manner.
Attention is paid to every little era specific detail. The costume and set design are of top caliber, never taking me out of the nearly flawless picture. My only mild gripe is that I would have enjoyed some more back story about Robinson. We're thrown right in to his tumultuous story with almost no character development whatsoever, other than one mention of his father leaving home. As tales of American legends go, I would have liked to know more about the man that changed the face of baseball.
If you're a fan of baseball, I really think you'll enjoy 42. The film runs a bit long but ultimately delivers a notable movie that captures the time period perfectly. The language is a bit strong for young kids but may serve as a valuable lesson in how much our world has changed in just a few years. Don't wait for the rental. See this one at the theaters for Ford's performance alone.
I'm rating this one a 4 out of 5 based on the fact that they could have used the excessive run time to expand the back story a bit more.