A Big Chuck Movie Review: “42” Hits a Grand Slam! (VIDEO)
"42", the new film about Jackie Robinson is a great way to spend two hours in a movie theater.
The film illuminates the trials and tribulations of Jackie, who was the first African-American baseball player in the major leagues. Newcomer Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson with a mixture of grace and simmering contempt. The movie is equally a story of Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), the courageous owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The depiction of the vitriol and pure hate that Jackie Robinson had to face and deal with (or not deal with) is extremely unsettling, but is also the important key that makes this movie work. I am certain to a large segment of the audience, the younger ones, this racist p\portrayal will be news to many of them. Some of the language is tough to swallow, even for adults.
The back story of Robinson's travails as the first black player ni baseball are very interesting, and the actual scenes on the ball diamond are real and gritty.
Many familiar names parade across the screen, especially for old time Brooklyn Dodger fans. Ford and Boseman both do star turns in the flick, but there are a couple of other performances to watch for. Lucas Black plays Pee Weee Reese, and the scene of Reese throwing his arm around the black player's neck in a show of support is the stuff of legends. Actor Alan Tudyk has the unfortunate role of spewing some of the most vile, racist dialog I have ever heard as the redneck manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Ben Chapman. And yes, that is ol' Max Gail, Barney Miller's Wojo, playing the manager of the Dodgers. "Law and Order's" Christopher Meloni also makes a rare movie appearance as Leo Durocher.
The performance I really liked though was John McGinley as sportscaster Red Barber. McGinly, only seen behind a microphone up in the "catbird seat,", really nails "The Old Red Head's syntax and broadcasting style. Old timers will really enjoy this performance.
I give "42" four meatballs, my highest honor. And be sure and take the youngsters with you. They will enjoy it and learn something from the movie.