Thursday, July 4, 2013


42 tells the story of St. Jack Robinson, a Negro Leagues star and former UCLA standout athlete who, through his infallibility and perfect judgement on and off the field broke baseball's color barrier and joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus softening the hearts of white men the world over before becoming the greatest ballplayer of all time. I hope those reading will recognize that my cynicism here is directed at the film and not at the achievements of Jackie Robinson, which were considerable and far reaching. However, Brian Helgeland's film is a fawning and sanitized portrait, concocted for general audiences (excepting a memorable scene featuring Alan Tudyk, which seems to belong to a different movie), and features a lead character who can do no wrong, thus generating virtually no interest. Newcomer Chadwick Boseman does what he can in the role and put at a further disadvantage by a screen gnashing Harrison Ford playing Branch Rickey, the National League President and brainchild behind the Robinson experiment.  Because baseball is such an American institution, I think there is a tendency for filmmakers to create hackneyed movies about the sport. 42 falls into this trap and its cloying sincerity and secular idolatry makes The Pride of the Yankees look like a no-holds-barred shocking exposé.