Movie Review: 42: The Jackie Robinson Story

Director: Brian Helgeland

Producer: Thomas Tull

Writer: Brian Helgeland

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Andre Holland, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni

Distributed by: Warner Brothers

Released: April 12, 2013 (theaters), July 16, 2013 (home video)


42 is a triumph of a film that details the 1947 Major League Baseball season and the man that broke the color-barrier in baseball: Jackie Robinson. The film details how Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decided to shake things up and sign Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to a contract. After playing in the minors for the Montreal Royals, Robinson was brought up to the Dodgers despite seemingly every other team against the idea. The film shows the hardships that Robinson endured and the way that he handled them.

The film is a great piece of work. I have seen plenty of inspirational sports movies that are based on real events but this has got to be one of the best. And a big part of why I think that is because of the acting. Harrison Ford is a great actor. Everyone knows that. But how he portrayed Branch Rickey was amazing. He was fully in character for the movie and may have played the best role of his career, and that is saying a lot for the man who played Han Solo! Chadwick Boseman is not a popular name but played Robinson perfectly. He was great in the part and I have a new found respect for Boseman as an actor. He showed the courage, pain, joy, and heartbreak that Robinson must have felt in 1947. He was perfect in the role.

The supporting cast was equally as good too.  Andre Holland played Wendell Smith, a noted African-American sportswriter who was the first African-American to be accepted into the Baseball Writers Association of America. This was Holland’s first major film role. The role of Jackie’s wife, Rachel, was played by Nicole Beharie. She was excellent as she shared the joys and pain with her husband on this journey. Interestingly enough, Beharie was also in another inspirational sports movie, The Express. Christopher Meloni, best known for his role on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, played controversial Dodgers manager Leo Durocher. Durocher would be suspended for the 1947 season when Robinson debuted but, before his suspension, gave a brief speech to his team letting them know that their initial negative attitudes about playing with Robinson would not be tolerated.

42 is a great film. Bottom line. The acting is great. The locations and settings are amazing. At 128 minutes, the pace of the film is just right. It is never too slow but does not speed through the great moments of the film. It is horrible to see how intolerant some people were and makes me happy to not have lived in those times. But it was great to see a man like Robinson who took all that hatred in and never fought back. He may have broke down at moments, but he stayed strong and changed the game of baseball for the better. 42 is a great film about a great moment in history. The 1947 baseball season is not just a great moment for baseball history or even for African-American history. It is a great moment in history period. And 42 does a great job of portraying that.

I give 42 a rating of…

5 out of 5