42 tells the story of Jackie Robinson’s promotion from playing for the Kansas City Monarchs to being the first African American to play for Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s a story of incredible courage and restraint, but also shows how horrific, ugly, and open racism was not that long ago in America. The film is 128 minutes long, rated PG-13, and stars Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, and Nicole Beharie.
How are the baseball scenes in the movie?
On the balance, there really aren’t many in the movie, which is fair because, while Robinson was an extraordinary baseball player, he is better remembered for breaking the color barrier in the game and the movie addresses that well. Still, the sports scenes in the movie are pretty impressive. Ebbets field has been digitally recreated and parks like Wrigley and Fenway have been retouched to appear as they would have in the late 40s. Uniforms and equipment are period-appropriate and the action feels very realistic.
Why is it rated PG-13?
Language, pure and simple, and the worst kinds.
Is it worth seeing?
It is, but not because it is a great movie. The plot moves somewhat disappointingly, given too often to relying on big speeches to get points across, rather than letting the acting tell the story, so it comes off a bit preachy. Further, a good number of scenes feel more like a stage production than a big budget movie.
Still, the legend of Jackie Robinson is an important one to tell and 42 does a good enough job of it. Chadwick Boseman is excellent playing Robinson and Harrison Ford is good as Dodgers owner, Branch Rickey. The picture 42 paints of Jackie Robinson’s story feels like it is continuously skimming the surface and, resultantly, the movie feels like an after-school version of Robinson’s life. It is worth seeing because we should all remember how horrible racism is. 42 puts us all on notice and also shows us what a giant Jackie Robinson was.
Is the movie too much for young viewers?
The bottom line is that racism is ugly and there are a healthy number of examples of it in this movie. Minor spoiler follows: In one scene a dad and his son are having a great time at the game. When Robinson enters the field, the dad begins spewing hatred at number 42. The boy is confused at first, but after looking around and listening to the other patrons around him, he begins yelling the same things. While the scene is cringe-worthy, it does provide a good teaching moment. I think any kids going to this movie should have a discussion with their parents both before and after — not only to put the movie in perspective, but also to consider racism in today’s society.
Is there a good time to sneak out and use the restroom?
The film moves along at a pretty good clip, but around the 50 minute mark when Jackie Junior is born is probably the best time to slip away.
Do I need to stay after the credits?
After the movie ends, there is a short segment that tells what happened to certain people in the movie, which is both informative and interesting. When that concludes and the credits roll, there’s no need to stay.