The next great baseball film made its major league debut yesterday around the United States. A tale of courage, talent, and determination that, while told many times, never gets old. Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford star in a new edition of the Jackie Robinson story, 42.
If you’re any kind of baseball fan, you’ll be seeing this film promoted constantly night and day over the next couple weeks, and if you’re any kind of baseball fan, you owe it to yourself to go see it.
Boseman is wonderful as Jackie Robinson, and while he’s primarily been a TV actor to this point, I’d imagine he’ll be getting a few more phone calls from Hollywood in the coming months. Ford is unrecognizable, but a poignant and determined Branch Rickey, one of my favorite baseball executives of all time. And the rest of the cast, with not an A-lister in site, delivers a solid performance, even down to the bit roles.
Ebbets Field has always somehow managed to be one of my favorite stadiums of all time, even though I’m not from Brooklyn, not particularly a Dodgers fan, and definitely not even alive until almost 30 years after it was torn down, so there was something special about seeing it on the big screen, even in facsimile form, and it certainly wasn’t the only stadium that 42 recreated, making it nice to go back in time and see the stately, hallowed grounds of stadiums past, and knowing that eyesores like the new Marlins Park will never catch up.
The story here is the familiar one. Jackie Robinson, the first African American in Major League Baseball, is breaking the color barrier. It’s a story I knew well, I saw the first Jackie Robinson film when I was a kid, where Jackie plays himself, but the story doesn’t tire. It is always great to see Pee Wee Reese and the Dodgers eventually accept Jackie, always great to see Jackie show himself the better player, and better gentleman.
Really the only gripe I have with 42 is the editing. I’m not sure it would be apparent to non-baseball players or fans, but there was really no way that Jackie could have stolen all those bases in the film if he leaves first as late in the pitchers wind-up as he does here. A better camera angle could have captured it better, rather than needing two shots most of the time, one of the pitcher and one of Jackie on base. the ending of the film could have been wrapped up a little better as well.
Being from northern Minnesota, 42 is pretty much as close to outdoor baseball as I’ve gotten so far this year, but this is certainly a film for baseball fans everywhere, so go see it.
Rating: 7 out of 10 stars.