"42" isn't so much a biography of Jackie Robinson as it is a snapshot of a time in American history. The color line and attitudes toward race in America's favorite pastime being used as a microcosmic picture of where the country was at the time.
The movie is more interested in what Robinson accomplished rather than who he actually was. We only get glimpses of his life off the field, and no real insight into the man himself.
But that's not what the filmmakers are after. The goal of this movie is to praise the achievements, and perhaps educate younger viewers about a difficult time in our history, and how it started to change. On that front, "42" succeeds as an involving, occasionally moving and always entertaining sports movie.
Chadwick Boseman is solid as Robinson - a man forced into a daunting situation when asked to make history as the first black man to join the majors in 1947. He would not be welcomed with open arms. Forward-thinking Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey gives him the shot, and some sage advice.
As Rickey, Harrison Ford gives his best performance in many years. For the first time in a long time it looks like he actually cares about the movie he's in. I also love the supporting work from Christopher Meloni as Dodgers manager Leo Durocher, John C. McGinley as sportscaster Red Barber and Nicole Begari as Robinson's wife, Rachel.
The real Mrs. Robinson served as a consultant on the film and
Oscar-winning writer/director Brian Helgeland ("LA Confidential," "Mystic River") has made done an admirable job crafting an inspirational movie, even if it doesn't measure up to the man in the middle of it.
EPPLER'S RATING: * * *
Out of five stars