Monday, April 15, 2013

A Movie Review--"42"

It is my fond opinion that good movies follow each other.  We had a "dry period" of kid-friendly movies about a month ago, but that quickly ended with the arrival of Oz, The Croods, and a promise of more yet to come--Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, etc. 
    Yesterday, my dad took my brothers and me to see 42, the Jackie Robinson movie.  For those of you who DO NOT know who Jackie Robinson is, let me explain.  For those of you who DO know, skip to the bold star (*) unless you want to read my attempt to explain who Jackie Robinson was and his impact on American and baseball history. 
    <Jackie Robinson was a black baseball player who joined a white baseball team (the Brooklyn Dodgers) at a time when segregation was still around (in the 40s).  Because of a brave general manager, Robinson was promoted to the Dodgers not only because of his baseball skills, but because of his courage.  Racial insults, death threats, and jeers greeted him at every stop of the way.  But Robinson pressed on, turning the other cheek, and, in the end, he paved the path for other non-Caucasian ballplayers to play in the MLB (Major League Baseball).>

Picture (and cast information) from Wikipedia

     * 42 is about Jackie Robinson's first season for the Dodgers (he wore the number 42), before he earned other teams' respect.  It follows the ups and downs of his career, along with aspects of his personal life. 
     However, it's not.  There are a few technical things that make it stand out. 
     First, there's no specific plotline.
     Jackie Robinson was a real person, and he lived a real life.  His life didn't follow the typical fictional pattern.  There's no intro, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.  It's hard to figure where that all fits in 42 because real life isn't like the movies, or books, which engineer their stories through the plotline.  42 illustrated Robinson's life, and Robinson's life wasn't a movie.  Sometimes events completely unrelated to Robinson's career occurred, true to his life (for example, his son's birth).  Because 42 tells about Robinson's life, the movie doesn't leave out the details about his personal life, even if they have nothing to do whatsoever with his career.  In that respect, it differs from other movies.
     Second, Robinson's life kept going on after the end of the movie.  Because there's no real plotline, the resolution (**Spoiler alert: a home run that helps win the pennant) resolved some of the jeering and racial insults, but Robinson's life didn't stop there.  His life continued.  In that way, I felt the home run didn't bring a necessarily complete conclusion.  I didn't feel the impact that the home run made on the pennant win.
     There are plenty of lighthearted moments (perhaps too many) along with the dark moments you get in a movie like this. ***It's very important to note that the movie doesn't involve really "physical" scenes, as in Glory Road. Mostly, it's just annoying verbal abuse based on race.

     42 stars newbie Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson, veteran Harrison Ford (The Star Wars series) as gutsy general manager Branch Rickey, Nicole Beharie as Rachel Isum Robinson, and Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese.  According to the LA Times, the movie had Rachel Robinson's (Jackie Robinson's 91-year-old widow) stamp of approval.  It's rated PG-13 for racial insults, language, and other things (according to my judgment, which isn't parental, it's not a movie for people under the age of 11 or 12).  The trailers (Hangover III, The Great Gatsby, Ironman III, The Internship) are also geared toward a more adult audience. 

     Overall, 42 is an intriguing movie that recounts a historically accurate version of Robinson's life.  Although it differs from other movies in plotline and resolution, it is a movie that illustrates chasing dreams and "turning the other cheek."  It's a great way to learn more about Jackie Robinson as a ballplayer and as a person.

My crowning glory: I believe I found a typo in the lettering at the end of the movie!  So all those years of finding typos in books, fliers, and programs have finally paid off!

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