42 is a movie about the late 1940s in America when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. It is set for release on Friday April 12th, 2013; one week from now. I strongly recommend seeing the movie as it is excellent.
In the classic “who you know” situation, a group of people in the community where I live were invited to a pre-release screening of the movie arranged by the mother of the president of Legendary studios, the producer of the movie. I was fortunate to be part of the group.
Warner Brothers is doing the distribution so 52 of us got onto a bus and made our way down US 101 from Thousand Oaks to Burbank and the Warner Bros studios where we made our way to screening room 5. Everyone seated, the room darkened and two hours of magic unfolded before us.
Chadwick Boseman played an excellent Jackie Robinson while Harrison Ford played a certain Oscar-winning role of Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers president and General Manager. Rickey was the driver with his maneuvering to get Robinson into the major leagues. Robinson, did his part by playing baseball with a passion and despite many attempts to get him to respond, not giving in to the racial thunderstorm surrounding him and Rickey’s decision to promote him from the minors to the majors on the Dodger team. At one point, Robinson asked Rickey: “You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?” Rickey responds: “No. I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back.” Rickey knew that if Robinson played well and behaved professionally everyone would have to accept him but if Robinson responded to the taunts it would become Robinson who was to blame and not the people trying to harass him. A marvelous strategy that eventually won out despite some rough times.
Through the whole Robinson has the support of his wife (Rachel Isum played by Nicole Beharie) and a reporter mentor on handling awkward situations (Wendell Smith played by Andre Holland); excellent support roles.
It’s no spoiler to reveal that in the end Robinson was the lead player who drove the Dodgers into the World Series and over the next several years caused the doors of major league baseball to open wide for all to participate.
I guess one thing that makes 42 so poignant for me was that I was a kid growing up when all this happened. Can’t say that it made a major impression back then either pro or con but I do recall the hoopla over the decision. The realistic depictions in the movie brought back memories of that time. But, these were depictions of history at the time and they were not done in a way that detracted from the major story unfolding in the movie.
My one word review would be: OUTSTANDING.
Go see it.