MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +4

Content: -2

Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Alan Tudyk, Lucas Black. Sports bio. Written & directed by Brian Helgeland.

STUDIO FILM SYNOPSIS: Hero is a word we hear often in sports, but heroism is not always about achievements on the field of play.  42 tells the story of two men—the great Jackie Robinson and legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey—whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball.  In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) put himself at the forefront of history when he signed Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team, breaking Major League Baseball’s infamous color line.  But the deal also put both Robinson and Rickey in the firing line of the public, the press and even other players.  Facing unabashed racism from every side, Robinson was forced to demonstrate tremendous courage and restraint by not reacting in kind, knowing that any incident could destroy his and Rickey’s hopes.

PREVIEW REVIEW: A powerful indictment against prejudice and bigotry, 42 also exemplifies courage, faith in the ultimate good of man, and reminds us that one man, backed by another, can turn our world around. 42 is an engaging film, and despite the reenactment of injustice and the evil of bigotry, it is a film that offers hope and goodwill.

Despite the wig, bushy eyebrows and padded waistline, which are distracting, Harrison Ford gives a sensitive but substantive performance as Branch Rickey, who took a brave step for the times he lived by signing a black man to the big leagues. Rickey is portrayed as a religious man who is vocal concerning his religious convictions. Trying to duplicate the original Branch Rickey, Ford seems to channel the styles of John Goodman and John Huston, while adding his own sensibilities to a character who is the film’s voice of reason – and our conscience. But it’s Chadwick Boseman who’s the main draw.

Boseman, who has done guest spots on Third Watch, CSI:NY, and All My Children, gives a restrained yet dynamic performance. This could well be a breakout role for the young actor. And deservedly so, as he is a charismatic screen presence who does everything veteran movie stars have taught up-and-comers – learn your lines, don’t bump into the furniture, and then burn up the screen!

The production values are above standard and, all around, the cast members do a sincere job of drawing us back to dark days (in the area of civil rights), but, promising times. For the film isn’t just about the mistreatment of a race, but also an inspiring plea for the continuing of justice for all.

Writer/director Brian Helgeland has the courage to not hold back on the bigoted epitaphs thrown at his main character, doing so in order to expose bigotry for what it is – ignorant and evil.

Perhaps the most profound scenes in the film have to do with an opposing coach hurling insults at Robinson before a packed stadium. It’s an extended scene, meant to unnerve and madden us. Helgeland helms these sequences with guts and panache. As difficult as it is to sit through these scenes, they ultimately serve to unite the theater audience with Robinson (hopefully). An equally telling moment has a dad and his son ready to enjoy the game. The father/son are bonding when, as Robinson takes the field, the father yells out the N-word, along with the crowd. His vitriolic chant against this man of color unsettles the boy, as he doesn’t understand what’s going on. Alas soon the child is also yelling the N-word along with his father. As demoralizing as that sequence can be, it sends the message that we learn from our parents.

The film’s theme reminds viewers that no matter our race, creed or color, life will throw curveballs. It’s up to us to take the bat and keep our eye on the ball. (A clumsy attempt at baseball metaphor, but you get the point.)

(On his role as baseball legend Jackie Robinson.)
“I'm overwhelmed by it. It's just a huge responsibility. I wake up every morning, been working and prepping on it, and I'm having the time of my life, playing baseball ... studying footage. It's the opportunity of a lifetime to just do what I love." – Chadwick Boseman

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Bros.

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Around five obscenities, along with the N-word being used, and in one scene that negative word is uttered almost as a chant; it is being used by the filmmaker to make a point of how hateful and ignorant bigotry really is – still, I felt uncomfortable hearing it and felt badly that blacks in at the screening had to endure it.

Profanity: I caught the profane “G—d…” used three times. I hate profanity as it is irreverent to God and with its use in every film it suggests a dislike for those who wish to reverence our Creator.

Violence: There is one fight scene and the treat of injury by “good-ol-boys” against a black man staying in their community.

Sex: The actor playing Leo Durocher is seen in bed with a woman he is having an adulterous affair with, but there is no graphic sexual activity.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: 128 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and up.

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