See It, Rent It, or Skip It: ‘42’

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(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

When Jackie Robinson defied Major League Baseball’s color line in 1946 he opened the doors for other African-Americans to forge ahead in “The Great American Pastime”.

42 tells this story. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland and starring Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson, 42 opens in theaters on April 12.

Boseman resurrects Robinson in this 2013 biopic. The relatively unknown actor proves that he’s got the chops to be a Hollywood great. The Howard University alumni gives an impeccable performance both on and off the ball field; his athleticism and faultless dramatic work are a revelation.

Academy Award winning writer, director, and producer Helgeland, leads a very talented cast that also features Harrison Ford, T. R. Knight, Christopher Meloni, Lucas Black and Nichole Beharie.

A long-time Hollywood favorite, Harrison Ford is Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey. The Cowboys & Aliens actor is right on the money with his depiction of the pioneering sports executive.

Fresh-faced Nichole Beharie portrays Jackie’s wife, Rachel Robinson. A Juilliard Drama School alumnus, Beharie shines on-screen. She is strong, deeply in love, supportive, and empathetic; a three-dimensional force of nature that commands your attention.

Unlike most biopics of the revolutionary ball player that solely focus on Robinson’s incredible talent, 42 unearths his character as a man; a loving husband, a devoted father, and a driven athlete.

Instead of covering Robinson’s entire life, Helgeland wisely focuses on the years leading up to the 1946-1947 season.

Although, I was already familiar with Robinson’s story, the film unveils moments in Robinson’s life with such a detailed, unsullied manner, that his legacy is as stirring now as it was upon my first introduction to the renowned athlete.

One of the most refreshing elements of 42 is that Robinson is clearly the hero — so often African-Americans are reduced to playing supporting roles in their own stories (Mississippi Burning, The Blind Side). Many were concerned that Hollywood would use dramatic liberties to paint Harrison Ford’s Branch Rickey as the hero; undermining Robinson’s champion. This is not the case in 42. Jackie Robinson is at the nucleus of this story.

Balancing the truth, action, and entertainment of a successful biographical film can be difficult, but Helgeland pulls it off perfectly in 42. The film resonates far beyond the doors of the theater. To simply say SEE IT is a vast understatement — the only thing you need to consider now is “When” and “Where”.

 -Jennifer Hall, CBS Local

Check out the trailer for ’42’ below.

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