42 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

42 Reviews

Page 1 of 193
Super Reviewer
½ December 29, 2014
"42" tells the inspirational true story of Jackie Robinson and how he became the first African American baseball player allowed to play in the Major League. I must say, I found myself really enjoying this film. From it's terrific performances to it's perfect setting, this is one of my favourite films based around the sport of baseball that I have seen in quite a few years. Charming, funny when it needs to be (for relief), and emotional when it matters. Almost everything in this film is there to move the story into the following scene, and I love movies when they take the time to do that. Chadwick Boseman really has a bright career ahead of him. Unlike the film "Moneyball," this film is a much grittier old-styled tone and sometimes films do that for style over substance, but "42" does it very very well. Extremely well-written, very well acted, and in my opinion, edited superbly. The editing style of this film was very unique and I admired that. Overall, a very emotionally charged picture that I highly recommend. This film will probably be overlooked in years to come, but not by me. Sure, you will see the same racial elements you have seen in many films through the years, but it just feels different here. A must-see for sports fans and film-fans alike.
Nikhil N.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2014
This movie is really average. It had all the opportunity to tell a great story about a legendary icon, but is instead overly sentimental and incredibly mediocre. It could have had a savage bite but all we get is a nibble.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2013
This is a great movie for anyone. If you like baseball, great, but it's not really necessary. If you like movies set in the '40s, you'll love it. If you like well done bio-dramas, you'll love it. Our whole family was engaged by this movie... lots of discussion about racism, tolerance, and self control in the face of stupidity. The acting was top notch. The story was well put together, with plenty of chuckles, along with the drama. Nicely done film. Kudos!
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2013
Staid and square, a bit like its lead, 42 is a biopic on Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrio in baseball, and while it?s reverential to a fault, it could have used more life. As a character, Robinson is simply not terribly interesting because he?s being trapped within a limited prism of inaction. Robinson the man could be fascinating, but Robinson the character of this movie is a bit of a bore. That?s why the film is just as much about Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), a far more colorful character that gets to chomp cigars and lecture people with countless speeches accompanied by heroic piano cues. 42 is crammed to the gills with messages but they?re so transparent and overdone, occasionally ham-fisted, where every important thought is spelled out and underlined and repeated for the audience. The corny sentimentality clashes with the danger and hostility Robinson bravely faced. We got stuff like a little kid praying to God that Robinson hits a homer to ?show what we can do,? a white guy trots up to Robinson and he seems dangerous? only to want to wish him well, and then there?s all the white players learning lessons of tolerance, treating Robinson as if he?s some prop for their own self-actualization. The greatest acting in the movie, a bit that may take your breath away, is from Alan Tudyk who plays a competing team manager. He is like a racist Foghorn Leghorn and he just? keeps? going. This sequence is the film?s best because it feels earned, complete, and lastly emotionally resonant. 42 is an acceptable biopic, effectively triumphant where it counts, but it feels too dated, too safe, and overburdened with doling out a slew of messages rather than telling an engaging and difficult story.

Nate's Grade: B-
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2013
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2013
Jackie Robinson is arguably one of, if not the most important figure in the history of Major League Baseball, and this film, written and directed by Brian Helgeland, is a look at his history making life and career.

Feeling the need to make history, and tired of prejudice, Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey decides to integrate the world of Major League Baseball by breaking baseball's infamous color line, and hiring a black man to play in the majors. That man is Jackie Robinson- a former serviceman and star of the Negro leagues who not only has the guts to take a stand, but the skills on the diamond to back it up.

Robinson first did a year with the Dodgers's minor league affiliate in Montreal, and, despite some problems with racism, ultimately proved his worth enough to earn a spot on the Dodgers roster for their 1947 season. The film depicts the trials and tribulations faced by both Rickey and Robinson for their history making, but thankfully it's not one sided in the sense of having no one else support them, nor is it too pandering, sappy or sentimental.

Don't get me wrong.This is a triumphant, feel good movie in the classic sense, and it does get sentimental and cliched at times, but in the end, it proves rather sensible, and ultimately does justice to the story, even if, as a film, it proves merely serviceable as a biopic, as it tends to stick to convention and formula most of the time.

That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as sticking to the formula often works, especially if the film also offers up something like stylistic flourish or acting to help set it apart.

And for the most part, that applies here. Harrison Ford is suitably grumpy as the steely Rickey, and CHadwick Boseman nails Robinson, practically to a tee. I don't know if he'll necessarily have a career beyond this, but he at least delivers some solid work here, and finds a nice balance with conveying the tough situation Robinson found himself in.

The film isn't really about baseball, but the sequences where games are recreated are well done. The period details are likewise decent, and, despite the PG-13 rating, the film does get the darker side of the story across just fine. In fact, I actually felt more uncomfortable watching the most overt scenes of racism here than I did while watching Django Unchained...make of that what you will.

The supporting cast are fine, though many just fade into the background. I think John C. McGinely should have been used more though as the announcer, as he was pretty good. The real scene stealer of the supporters though, has to be Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman- the uber hateful racist manager of the Phillies. It was his scenes where I really cringed due to how unnecessarily hateful his character was to Robinson, and not due to his baseball skills, but because of his skin color.

Even though this film isn't the most memorable or noteworthy biopic, it is nevertheless a stirring, entertaining, and heartwarming film about perseverance, acceptance, and having the courage to stand up for what's right.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2013
An earnest, if flawed, take on the rise of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and what his breaking the color barrier in baseball did for civil rights. Boseman looks and fits and part of Robinson, and is tasked with showing his emotional state, especially controlling his temper, despite the racist name calling done by both fans, players, and opposing managers alike. The acting all-around is solid, especially Harrison Ford as owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, who gives his best turn in nearly two decades. The problems with the film lie with how watered down the approach is overall. This could have been a stellar film had it been allowed to push the envelope and maybe even earn itself an R-rating given the specifics of this story, instead we get a Hollywood-ized feel good-ery affair where you can see everything coming a mile away and the film fails to leave a lasting mark. With that said, it is far from terrible, it is enjoyable in spurts, but it could have been so much more.
Super Reviewer
½ August 28, 2013
In a game divided by color, he made us see greatness.

Great Film! The film is a true inspirational story of how a baseball player helped change a sport, and how sport can change a country. Despite it's cliché moments, this film has a charm to it that makes it so beloved. I felt the film was done well with good directing by Brian Helgeland who also wrote the screenplay. He let his cast act and it shows in their performances. I liked Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson. Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. Nicole Behanie as Rachel Robinson, and Andre Holland as Wendell Smith. These four were real standouts and I just enjoyed watching them do their roles."42" for me was a powerful and superb film that everyone should see, even if you are not a baseball fan. It looks at a period in our country where stupidity was running amuck in not treating people with respect, fairness, and looking at their color first. Two men started something that would change our lives for the better and thank God for that! Its my hope that 42 film will educate and inspire this generation and the next and that "42" won't become lost amongst the Sports film or bio-pic movie genre.

In 1946, Jackie Robinson is a Negro League baseball player who never takes racism lying down. Branch Rickey is a Major League team executive with a bold idea. To that end, Rickey recruits Robinson to break the unspoken color line as the first modern African American Major League player. As both anticipate, this proves a major challenge for Robinson and his family as they endure unrelenting racist hostility on and off the field, from player and fan alike. As Jackie struggles against his nature to endure such abuse without complaint, he finds allies and hope where he least expects it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 27, 2013
Well done, solid flick. Nothing earth-shattering about the film, which is too bad considering the subject matter.
Super Reviewer
May 20, 2013
Nicely presented, like a Hallmark TV movie. Lacks the emotional punch it should have had, but still a good film. I enjoyed Harrison Ford's portrayal of Mr. Rickey, but none of the performances blew me away.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2013
42 is an exceptionally well told story about an important figure not only in sports history, but for this country in general. The movie might play it a little too predictably, but the movie adds in enough charisma and inspirational moments that it makes up for it. You do not have to be a fan of baseball or sports to enjoy this movie for what it is. It's incredibly entertaining and uplifting with great performances from Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman. The supporting cast is also excellent with too many well done characters to name. Like I said before, you kind of understand where the movie is going to go seeing that it is based on the true story, but it adds in enough personal moments to get you caring about the characters. You never question any of these actors. They all dug deep and make you think they are these characters. Only few complaints would be that the pacing is off a little at times and it seems like not much is going on and it is a little long at over 2 hours. It feels like a completely old-fashion movie and this will unfortunately turn off some younger audience members, but they should absolutely watch it. I was actually talking to my fiancé and we agreed that this would be a great movie to show at high schools (the language is a little rough in spots and would not be suitable for anyone younger than that. The "N" word is used throughout to keep the movie authentic to its time period). Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed 42 and it made me feel great afterward. Not many movies do that.
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2013
Probably the most straightfoward film of the year, certain elements such as the great cast and little period piece details keep "42" above the 'meh' line just often enough to recommend. It isn't a disagreeable film - in the 'Lincoln' mold, its a glowing inspirational biography film that makes up for a lack of sparkle with general craftsmanship.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2013
I've said before that I like my baseball movies shiny and happy. Well, "42" is shiny at times and happy at times, but never a satisfying combination of the two like the other numerically named baseball tribute, "61*." I understand that Robinson's role in baseball and African-American history isn't necessarily one of shine and happiness, but then that gives no excuse for the All-American veneer and Lifetimey writing throughout the first half.

Not until Robinson's breakdown in the tunnel does the film "get real," so to speak. Robinson faces more racism but gradually shows his strength, and the film finally gets around to Branch Rickey's reasons for bringing a black man into the sport's white hallowed halls. Robinson is unsatisfied with the propagandistic "we must triumph over racism" reason, as well as the missing-the-forest-for-the-tree "you're a fine young man" reason, but he is satisfied with Rickey's "I won't stand for unfair treatment of talent in the game I love" reason. It seems the most honest, and I can't say I'm quite satisfied with it, but the film seems satisfied with it, so that's fair.

Chadwick Boseman is charismatic and athletic with great gravitas. The editing of Harrison Ford is uneven. Sometimes, I couldn't tell it was Ford, but other times, I could, and it wasn't great. Newcomer Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson embodies grace under pressure, and she reminds me of Kerry Washington in "Ray" - a supportive wife character, full of goodness and light, but not lacking in personality.
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2013
Jackie Robinson joins the Brooklyn Dodgers and becomes the first African American baseball player.
Jackie Robinson is an unquestioned American hero, and that is the sum total of this film. So my objection to the film is not based upon its thesis but based upon its reification of its hero to the point where every scene pounds Robinson's greatness into its audience's heads. Contrast this film with 61* wherein we also learn to reify Roger Maris but because we get to know him and his struggles intimately. There is only one scene -- the best scene in the film -- where Chadwick Boseman gets to do more than stand majestically as the low-angle camera makes him seem like a giant among men, and in that scene, taking place in the tunnel beneath the Dodger dugout, we finally get to see racism's toll and Robinson's strength as he overcomes his weakness. I wish they had more of those scenes and cut out the fucking children (yes, Robinson was an inspirational figure, but lack of restraint turns this into a Lifetime movie).
Here is a fast word about patriotism: there are three majestic shots of an American flag and an extended rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. There is a reaction shot of Robinson's face, and in it one can mostly read placidity. However, one should be able to read disdain. Robinson was not a patriot, though revisionist history likes to make him out as one. He recognized Branch Rickey's courage and revered the man like a father, but he did not revere the country that forced him into the role of second-class citizen. I can't say with certainty that this film continues the myth of Robinson the patriot, but it doesn't do anything to dispel it.
Harrison Ford is very good, adopting a gravelly voice and a no-bullshit demeanor; there were times when Ford is nearly unrecognizable. The best performance, however, is by John C. McGinley in the thankless role of the radio broadcaster. McGinley gets the voice, cadence, mannerisms, and prose perfectly. I almost wished I could just listen to him call the games.
The art direction is good. They got the Polo Grounds perfectly. Crosley Field and Ebbets Field were also well done with very few errors.
Overall, this film is disappointing because it fails to take risks and does little to help us understand Robinson the man.
PS: Yogi Berra tagged him out in '55.
Super Reviewer
May 29, 2013
i really enjoyed this film. great art direction and solid performances. i think the film is held back a bit by taking on the mood of standard inspirational sports films, cutting out most of the ugliness and emotion of the story in order to lift it up to only its heights, creating mostly one dimensional characters. it plays more like a "best of" cliffs notes telling of a story where the soul is missing. this is standard for sports genre films but i feel like Jackie deserves better, something a bit more epic in scale, delving into the nuts and bolts a bit more deeply. however, as standard sports films go, this one is as good as any.
Super Reviewer
½ May 12, 2013
A thoroughly unspectacular insight of a spectacular man.
Super Reviewer
½ May 8, 2013
A stand up and cheer classic that's more than a sports movie, its just an incredible and superb character piece. It's rousing entertainment at its absolute finest. A special kind of movie going pleasure that just hits you to the core. A powerfully effective, deeply moving, incredibly inspiring and totally astonishing movie experience. A triumph that's a total home run of spectacular entertainment. Director, Brian Helgeland crafts his finest piece of work ever. A deep, strong and compelling story that's filled with heart, power, humor and brilliant performances. Chadwick Boseman gives a breakthrough performance that shines with absolute excellence and star power. Harrison Ford is absolutely magnificent, he gives one of the best performances of his career. Ford and Boseman steal home. An exhilarating drama that's thrilling and unforgettable. This movie soars and rises higher and higher. Biopics like this are rarely as good as advertised, but this one blows away expectations and becomes one of the best biopics ever made. This is the stuff movie legends are made of.
Super Reviewer
½ May 8, 2013
One word.....impactful. I was sort of skeptical on how well an amateur actor could play someone as large as Jackie Robinson, but Chadwick Boseman killed the role. Knowing a good amount of baseball history, I appreciated how on-point the detail was in the film. From Ebbets field, to the Polo grounds, to the uniforms....everything was visually pleasing. I really don't have a negative thing to say about 42, and I believe it should definitely have a higher score than its current 77%.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2013
Worth seeing
Markus Emilio Robinson
Super Reviewer
April 25, 2013
"42" is what you would call "a fluff piece" in journalistic terms. A very well written fluff piece, but a fluff piece nonetheless. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, a white guy who is more known for his script writing abilities than his directorial prowess, "42" tells not so much the life story of Jackie Robinson (even though it has the ostentatious runtime of 128 minutes) but more so the story of Robinson's historic breaking of the color barrier in baseball, due to the signing by Branch Rickey, the team executive of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time.

Even though I am giving this film a recommendation, maybe the best way to describe it would be with the term "hokey entertainment". From the initial sappy score, to some cringe inducing dialogue along the way, at first glance "42" would seem like something you could see on ABC Family during Black History Month.

Not to say "42" isn't entertaining because it is, but do I think a movie about Jackie Robinson should have been this tame? The answer is a resounding no! And therein lies the problem. I'm no historian, but in a movie concerning integration in the 40's, it is nothing less than a distracting inaccuracy (which took me completely out of this film multiple times) when at no point did I fear for Robinson's life. Therefore, I don't think I'm making a grand leap in saying that some of the more graphic material was Disney'd up, in order to make "42" a movie for the whole family. In short, the stakes here are disappointingly low for this type of material. On the other hand, I saw a Meet the Press interview with Jackie Robinson's wife, who claimed that she loved the movie because of its "authenticity".

That said, throughout this overlong film there are flashes of sheer compelling grittiness, which act like shining beacons of a movie I wished this could have been.
The Acting: The acting from the two leads is pretty impressive for different reasons. Virtual unknown Chadwick Boseman (who plays Jackie Robinson) is exceptionally good here, demanding attention whenever he is on screen. I am very excited to see what the future holds for him. As for Harrison Ford, he devours the scenery with his portrayal of Branch Rickey, in his most intriguing performance since "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade". Oh, and I should make mention that John C. McGinley plays Red Barber (the Brooklyn Dodgers radio broadcaster at the time) and is part of undoubtedly one of the funniest comic bits this side of "Best in Show".

Helgeland's Direction: There is really nothing special looking in "42" when focusing on scenes where characters are sitting around chatting. But EVERY SINGLE scene on the baseball field will have audiences on the edge of their seats. The way the camera follows Boseman as he runs the base path is a technique I've never seen before.

But, when I speak of "grittiness", I am definitely speaking of a few scenes in particular. The most prominent being the heckling scene where the Phillies manager, played with gusto by Alan Tudyk, showers Jackie Robinson with "N-bombs", as Robinson stands in the batter's box during a game. This is essentially the best sequence of the film, because it is one of the only scenes which transcends the hokeyness; giving audiences a cold dose of realism. Too bad scenes like this were so few and far between.

Final Thought: In the end, I wanted a pre-African American civil rights movement movie with more bite (or maybe one directed by Spike Lee) and instead I got something that while not forgettable, is no "Malcolm X". On the other hand, I wasn't bored like I was during "Red Tails" or offended like I was throughout "The Blind Side".

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
Page 1 of 193