I’ve been looking forward to 42 for months. It’s not often that biopics do that to me, but this is Jackie Robinson, and even more importantly: It’s baseball, one of my fondest loves.
It’s not a rule, but biopics are difficult.
When squashing a historically significant person’s life into two hours, filmmakers run the risk of making that person sanctimonious, or boring, or sage-like, or lots of other adjectives.
I wish it were possible to report 42 is a homerun. It ain’t. It’s pretty standard bio fare.
There are some good aspects, mostly in the performances. Chadwick Boseman as Robinson is fine, but he’s not given much to do other than look noble or angry. Nicole Beharie, as Rachel Robinson, is charming. Christopher Meloni burns up the screen as Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Leo Durocher, but is gone too soon.
Alan Tudyk, as Philadelphia Phillies Manager Ben Chapman, deserves special recognition for being willing to hurl 8 million racial epithets at Boseman in a major American motion picture. Those scenes contain the movie’s few genuinely uncomfortable moments, and they hit home.
The rest is pretty dull. And in a revelation that will surprise no one, Harrison Ford, as Branch Rickey, is terrible. Rickey is supposed to be a character, not a caricature.
Written and directed by Brian Helgeland
With Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford and Nicole Beharie
Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14