Sunday, April 14, 2013

"42" - Review

“42” – Review

“Capraesque” means a style of movie making better known from the early years of Hollywood developed by famed Director Frank Capra, where he uniquely told stories that focused singularly on the courage of the lead character, their positive effects on the greater good and ultimately the triumph of the underdog. Such is the style of story in the Jackie Robinson film “42”.

We all know the basic history and impact of Jackie Robinson of being the first Black man to break the color barrier in American baseball and in that respect “42” delivers. It also does a good job in reintroducing and showcasing viewers to this iconic American’s courage and mental strength as a player, his love and devotion to his adoring and supportive confidant wife and the unique passion and compassion of visionary Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey.

And while “42” manages to deliver all of these entertaining virtues through out the film, including a very pristine and wholesome cinematic backdrop to this story  with hardly any false steps in it’s pacing, in the end I didn’t learn anything new.about Jackie Robinson that isn’t part of general knowledge already.

What could have been a much more revealing film was some time telling how Jackie Robinson the man’s early life was forged to bring him to the pivotal moment of him meeting Branch Rickey. Instead the film spends most of it’s two hours on just two years where he played minor league baseball as part of his eventual transitioning to that fist season in the major leagues and of course into the history books.

I am still curious as to how his sense of abandonment by his father he never knew affected him? How growing up in segregated Cairo, Georgia as a teenager in the early 1930s molded him? What was the catalyst that drew him to sports and baseball to get an education as a stellar athlete for 4 years at UCLA? How he met his wife? What were their personal thoughts on those many nights alone at home not knowing would Jackie be harmed by someone? What was the Black community’s role who came to games faithfully providing Jackie the moral support and courage by cheering him on to succeed while also enduring the same threatening insults and racial taunts?

“42” is absolutely worth seeing, but when I was leaving the theater I immediately knew that I would have my many probative questions explored, thoroughly examined and ultimately answered by famed historic film Director Ken Burns who plans to tell his “Jackie Robinson” story for PBS in 2015.

3 – 1/2 Stars  

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