By Brent Glass (@BrentAMG)
Last night I watched the movie 42. My interest had been piqued ever since I finished reading 7 Men: And the Secret to Their Greatness. Obviously, one of the featured “7 men” was Jackie Robinson. I had always known of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson’s (little known fact: he was named after Teddy Roosevelt, a president who liked black people most of the time) life story, at least at the surface level. However, I never fully understood the magnitude of his sacrifice and tenacity.
The film begins with a brief narrative of the state of baseball and society in 1945. 42 ‘s first memorable scene occurs when Mr. Rickey tells some of his associates that he is going to bring a negro into the major leagues. One of them openly states that it would be a failure while the other just slyly smirked, which could’ve been interpreted as a silent approval or, conversely, a sarcastic bidding of good luck. Essentially, this is the scenario of the entire movie: Branch Rickey wants to integrate African-Americans into major league baseball, meeting dissidents at every turn while Jackie Robinson fearlessly takes on the insults of a thousand lifetimes.
(Do not let my over-simplification fool you; I thought it was a good movie. To me, it is always difficult to create a ground-breaking biographical movie since, if one is attempting to stick to the facts, there really aren’t any surprises – except for the ones that occurred naturally, of course. Lincoln is certainly an exception to this.)
I have an unorthodox way in which I write movie reviews. This one will be no different. Because of the biographical nature of the film, I am simply going to discuss some positive aspects of the film, my thoughts for improvement, and my take-away.
Positive: The best aspect of the movie, which to most will seem ridiculous to even mention, is the story. It is difficult to hear the story of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson in this day-and-age and not be impressed and inspired. Within that, I appreciated how the movie did stick to the facts. I was surprised that the film mentioned the faith of both Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson. Near the beginning of the film, Rickey decides on Robinson. “He’s a Methodist. I’m a Methodist. God’s a Methodist,” Rickey says. Also adding humor in the statement, Mr. Rickey started the film by identifying the centrality of faith in both of their lives, as is factually correct. Building off of that: Harrison Ford was great in his role as Branch Rickey. They did a great job in transforming Ford into a hardened Methodist. The cigar permanently lodged between Rickey’s pointer and middle fingers seemed natural for the veteran actor and I loved it. Also it was nice to see Billy Riggins (Derek Phillips) from Friday Night Lights in something else.
Negative: Acting. While Harrison Ford did an excellent job as Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) was not up to par, in my opinion. However, I will not criticize him too much since it was his first movie as the leading role. There were many instances where my “cheese-o-meter” went off the charts. i.e. When Robinson proposes to Rachel. Time was also an issue. At times, the movie really dragged, making it seems much longer than the 2 hours and 9 minutes that it was.
Take-away: 42 was a good sports movie. However, it was not a great sports movie. There were a lot of fun parts but room for improvement. 3.75/5
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is beginning a marketing project designed to expand the reach of Sagamore Institute and Eureka College, creating a social media management business, Connect You Consulting, and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in either public policy, political science or business.