"42," the story of Jackie Robinson's rookie season for the Brooklyn Dodgers, looks like a Norman Rockwell illustration come to life, as I say in my first review for WHYY about this unashamedly old-school biopic.
It stars relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman as Robinson -- 42 was the number on the ballplayer's Dodgers jersey -- and it doesn't hurt the cause that Boseman bats, runs and slides like an actual ballplayer. And he does such a convincing job swallowing the bile Robinson must have felt when he was race-baited or told he couldn’t sleep in the same hotel as his white teammates that I thought I was going to get acid reflux just by watching him.
Walking in, I was disappointed that I wasn't going to see Spike Lee’s Jackie Robinson movie. From the trailers, I was afraid it was going to focus more on Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford in a cigar-and-scenery-chewing performance), the Dodgers owner whose recruitment of Robinson integrated the majors. While Robinson's relationship with Rickey (no relation to me, by the way) is one of the film’s plotlines in Brian Helgeland's film, more moving is Robinson’s loving marriage with his wife, Rachel (Nicole Beharie, wonderful) and his shotgun marriage to teammates like Pee Wee Reese and Ralph Branca.
Read the rest of this review here.