'42' hits a home run
Even though I am very uninterested in watching real sports on television, I am always up for a good sports movie. I was expecting and hoping to like "42," which tells the story of Jackie Robinson and his historic signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and am very happy to report it lived up to my expectations.
Set in the post-World War II 1940s, this film has the combined challenges of being a period piece, a sports film and trying to succeed as a drama. From a sports point of view, the baseball in the film is fun to watch, compelling and very cinematic.
The film does a good job of paying homage to the storied history of the American pastime.
For the uninitiated, such as this reviewer, it was very interesting to get a glimpse into the history of baseball but also into how issues of race and segregation affected a game that supposedly defines the American spirit.
Actor Chadwick Boseman makes his mainstream debut as Jackie Robinson to good effect. His performance is equal parts powerful and vulnerable, and he gives an important personalization for a single man's journey that is set on the world stage. However, it is Harrison Ford as general manager Branch Rickey who really steals the show. Ford's performance is enthralling to watch and provides all of the context needed to demonstrate how important Jackie Robinson's career was to his team and for our country -- and what a step it was down the path to equality.
"42" accomplishes all it sets out to and does so with both flair and an understanding of the seriousness of the story being told. It might not be a grand slam, but it is certainly a home run.
James Gerstner works at the Fort Hays State University Foundation and is the founder and editor of Six Horizons Media at sixhorizons.com. Contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org, @sixhorizons on Twitter, Facebook.com/sixhorizons.