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Jackie Robinson Is Number 42
By Ian Winship
The number “42” is the only number retired by all of baseball. The movie 42, which just recently came out on DVD, tells us why.
The movie follows the life of iconic baseball player Jackie Robinson as he struggles and overcomes the challenge of becoming the first African American baseball player in Major League Baseball.
While still holding on to its Hollywood shine, 42 does a good job of portraying what it may have been like for Jackie back in the late 1940s. If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, watch this movie. If you care about the history of America and racism of the past, watch this movie. If you are looking for a heartwarming story of an American hero, you know what to do. (Hint: Watch this movie.)
Writer and Director, Brian Helgeland, brings us back to the past with comfort and grace. Everything from dialogue to fashion to racial tension is portrayed in a way that feels real. I can’t say for sure because I wasn’t there but, this is what I imagine baseball in the 1940s to feel like.
The biggest thing I disagree with is the way the movie downplays the malevolence of this particular time period. Don’t get me wrong. The language is there. The death threats. The insults. Alan Tudyk has “redneck piece of sh!t” manager Ben Chapman down to a T. Throwing insult after insult at Jackie Robinson (played by Washingtonian Chadwick Boseman). Yet, the movie seems a bit cheerier than I think real life would have been. Can you really blame the filmmakers, though?
Victoria Thomas, who was in charge of casting, made some brilliant choices. Having Harrison Ford as the older gentleman, Branch Rickey, made a lot of sense. His growling dialogue is as believable as it is emotional, at least once you get past the fact that Indiana Jones is a baseball executive later in life.
Chadwick Boseman, who you might be familiar with if you are a crime show kind of person, plays the role of Jackie Robinson well. Whenever he's accosted, you see the anger and confusion in his eyes. His chemistry with Nicole Beharie, who played Rachel Robinson, is natural. On top of all of that, he looks comfortable on the field.
Overall the movie is enjoyable to watch. Most of all, it's the nostalgic feel that makes the movie. It just makes me want to go play ball.