As baseball struggles to still be this country’s national pastime, it is movies like 42 that not only show us how far baseball has come, but what we’ve have done to revolutionize the sport and the world. If you think 42 is just another movie about baseball, you’re wrong. It’s way more than that. As I sat in that budget theater (6 bucks for admission, popcorn and a drink. I know right?! AMAZING!), I slowly realized that it was not just about the sport. It was about the love for the game, and what it takes for people to see that in you.
Plot: In 1946, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) was a baseball player in the Negro Leagues. This league was a completely separate league from the Major Leagues that, you guessed it, only featured African American players. Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) however, wanted to change that. His main reason wasn’t really even to end segregation in sports. He just wanted to sell more seats, create more wealth, and become a bigger dynasty. But, as he slowly figured out, it spiraled into something even greater than that.
One of the things I found interesting was that there was this divide between the two leagues, but no rules officially stating you HAVE to play in each one. Rickey understood this, and hand picked a player that would not only sell him more seats in the crowd, but also give him a chance at winning a championship. Harrison Ford plays this role perfectly. With the grit, the voice, and just the overall presence of a Major League hot-shot business man, I was just blown away at how much I really believed in the character he was portraying. For fans of Harrison Ford (especially form Star Wars and Indiana Jones) you may not like this side of Ford. But personally, this is a very good example of exemplary acting.
The overall feel of the movie is pretty retro. With the color schemes of outfits, the look of the ballparks, and even down to the look of the filters, I felt like the director did a great job capturing that presence within the movie. He even imported real footage clips from back then, almost displaying this movie as a dramatized biography. Even though the director left out important elements from this heroic story, we all have to realize that it’s a movie. If people want to really know about it, I advise reading a book or going on Wikipedia. Doing a beginning to end biography of Jackie Robinson wasn’t what the director wanted to do. He simply wanted to tell an amazing story of our lifetime.
One of the things I also liked was the random cameos of actors. Remember “Steve the Pirate” from the award winning (but not really) movie Dodgeball? Yeah, he’s in this movie. He is the Philideplphia Phillies head coach. And let me tell you, the role he plays isn’t exactly “pretty.” In one scene, his only job was to heckle Jackie for about 15 minutes. N-word here, N-Word there. It was a little uncomfortable… but I just kept saying “OK, take it easy Steve. It’s just Baseball.”
Anyone recognize this next guy? I’m sure you do if you’ve watched at least 10 minutes of Law and Order: SVU. He plays the Major League Coach Jackie has before in the big leagues. He is told to just play Jackie the way he should be played, and don’t treat him any different. However, half way through the movie, he is suspended for his ongoing affairs and troubles with women all over the country. How ironic, eh?
And last, but not least. DR. COX! Yes, the Scrubs doctor that everyone loves/hates. He is the Brooklyn Dodgers announcer. His role isn’t very big, but he still brings that sarcastic tone and personality/humor into this movie. He portrays the historic announcer quite well! With those wacky lines people used back then (calling people fruits, such as rhubarb), he delivered, and struck out this role!
See what I did there? Made you wait till the end of my post for a baseball pun.