“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.