“42” stars Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson when he became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues.
Director Brian Helgeland reportedly did NOT want Harrison Ford to play Branch Rickey, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM who broke all the rules and signed Jackie Robinson. Helgeland said that he didn’t want Chadwick Boseman, a relative unknown, to have to compete with Indiana Jones and he was supposedly considering Robert Redford for the role. Ford convinced the Director that he was the right man by memorizing Rickey’s mannerisms and then acting out key scenes for him. That’s why it saddens me to no end to say that Harrison Ford KILLS this movie. He wears the role of Branch Rickey like it’s an oversized, really uncomfortable suit. With the exception of a few quiet moments, Harrison Ford NEVER settles into the role and the whole movie suffers for it.
Chadwick Boseman delivers an understated but solid performance as Robinson and there are some scene-stealing moments from Christopher Meloni and John McGinley. We also get to meet a whole host of attractive new actors, but unfortunately most of them are playing hateful, bigoted baseball players so they’re impossible to LIKE.
Jackie Robinson’s signing by the Brooklyn Dodgers and eventual acceptance by Major League Baseball fans was a huge moment in this country and our race relations. It changed how many people saw the world and something that momentous deserves an Oscar caliber film. Instead, it ends up being uncomfortable and shallow. The story is so strong that there are inevitably moments that transcend the schlock, but I ultimately have to give “42” a C. Sorry, I really wanted to see a Harrison Ford comeback too.