Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


April 17, 2013

‘42’ tells an important story in an uninteresting way

Greensburg — This week we look at the sports biopic 42 (PG-13).  Based upon the legendary life of Jackie Robinson, 42 looks at Robinson’s integration of Major League Baseball in the late 1940’s.  

Chadwick Boseman stars as the Dodger second baseman with Harrison Ford playing Dodger owner Branch Rickey. Brian Helgeland directs.

Ryan: Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 is the most important thing to ever happen to American professional sports. It was an act that transcended the sporting world. It would not be a reach to argue that Robinson’s dignified integration of baseball helped lay the foundation of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. The importance and legacy of Jackie Robinson is not being overstated. With all that said, the movie 42 does not quite reach the height of its subject matter. This is hardly the first (nor will it be the last) time that Hollywood has made an ordinary movie about an extraordinary individual.

Andy: The importance and power of Jackie Robinson’s accomplishment is perhaps part of what makes 42 so frustrating. This is a story that deserves the full treatment of a great American film. And it does not get that treatment here. The movie gets off to a shaky start when the title card pops up before the first scene letting us know that, “The following is based on actual events.” This may seem like a little thing, but it is a tone that maintains throughout the movie. The inherent power of the story makes for a pretty acceptable movie, but it consistently under-performs.

Ryan: I do give the film credit for being earnest. It has its heart in the right place. The movie treats its subject matter with reverence — but I would argue with too much reverence as Robinson is portrayed more as a symbol and an ideal than as a flesh and blood man. One gets glimpses as Robinson’s inner struggle, but those are few and far between. Sanitized is probably not the right word, but I feel that the movie’s tone is more after-school-special than adult drama. Yes the movie captures the important lessons of Robinson’s journey and it frames the seriousness of his struggle in a proper manner but one could have hoped for more of an edge and intensity when dealing with such a significant historical moment.

Andy: It is funny to think of a movie that is riddled with racial slurs as having a made-for-TV feel to it, but that is an accurate description. There is a lack of depth to the characters that makes the movie feel like its main objective is to touch on the historical highlights. While that is obviously important, making it seem like real people overcoming real problems would result in a more authentic, and therefore a more powerful film. Adding to the inauthentic feel is Mark Isham’s overly aggressive score that telegraphs the emotion of each scene.

Ryan: Though he’s been in several television shows, this is Chadwick Boseman’s first big theatrical film. When one plays an iconic character, the expectations can be daunting. Overall he does what he can with the part. He captures the stoic dignity of Robinson, but Boseman doesn’t present the character traits in a charismatic manner. Off the field, I don’t know how magnetic Robinson was or wasn’t but when making a biopic one has to present the main character in an alluring manner. I don’t feel like we really ever get to know, completely, the real Jackie Robinson. And that is cinematically frustrating.

Andy: Another distraction that the film has a hard time overcoming is the performance of Harrison Ford. While Branch Rickey was notoriously gruff and surly, Ford’s performance ranges from convincing to downright unintentionally comical. His tone that is sometimes just not right sums up the issues with the movie. It is hit or miss, but this is too important of a story to be telling it in such an uneven way.  

42 an average film that does not live up to the compelling nature of the story that it is attempting to tell, earning a mediocre C+.


Text Only
  • nws-gb072614-book review pic 1 Review: Supersurvivors by David B. Feldman, PhD & Lee Daniel Kravetz You’re not sure if you’ll ever recover.The loss of job or a business. The loss of a lifelong dream. The loss of your health or the life of someone you love. Without a doubt, you’ll never be the same. It’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • New arrivals at library Translation to XTAGS failed

    July 25, 2014

  • "Hercules" movie poster Movie preview: “Hercules”

    Plot: Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • "Lucy" movie poster Movie preview: “Lucy”

    Plot: Writer/director Luc Besson helms this action-thriller that tracks a woman who falls prey to sinister underworld forces, but gains superhuman abilities that allow her to strike back at her oppressors.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent-gb072414-movie wolf apes dawn - pic Latest 'Apes' flick is monkey as metaphor FROM THE DEN AT WOLF THEATRES — At its core, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is a fable about the human condition that evinces thoughtful, subtle influences from a slightly unexpected source: George Orwell’s 1945 novel “Animal Farm.”Of course, with

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent-gb072414 Movie Boys review jpg Begin Again is nice counter to endless summer blockbusters With Andy still on sabbatical, I’ll be taking a solo look this week at an anti-blockbuster-type of movie. Begin Again (R) stars Mark Ruffalo as a down-and-out New York music executive who stumbles into a bar and coincidentally hears an ingénue singer

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent-gb072414 Colts kickoff concert pic Colts are hosting their free Back to Football Kickoff Concert The Colts will host their Kickoff Concert Presented by Verizon on Friday, September 5, in Downtown Indianapolis. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature Grammy Award winning artist Blues Traveler, performers of the smash hits “R

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • :Sex Tape" movie poster Movie preview: “Sex Tape”

    Plot: Though they’re still very much in love, ten years and two kids have cooled the passion for Jay and Annie. To spice up their relationship, they decide to make a home video of themselves.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • "Planes: Fire and Rescue" movie poster Movie preview: “Planes: Fire and Rescue”

    Plot: When world-famous air racer Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • "The Purge: Anarchy" movie poster Movie preview: “The Purge: Anarchy”

    Plot: A defenseless young couple find themselves stranded in the city on the one night of the year that all crime, including murder, is legal, in this self-contained sequel to the 2013 sleeper hit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo