I came into the movie theater knowing that I wasn’t going to get a major history lesson of everything that happened during Jackie Robinson’s rookie year. But I knew that with Hollywood, the main message of the story would be told beautifully. That’s what I got when I saw “42” today.
The movie doesn’t detail every single thing that came with Robinson’s signing or Branch Rickey’s struggle to maintain a clubhouse that supported Robinson. But as any good Hollywood movie does, the reality is shown. And the reality was that Robinson’s arrival came with a lot of hate. From hate mail, to racial slurs to death threats, it all was emphasized throughout the film, an important aspect that I think the film captures wonderfully. Especially for a time period that so few of us actually lived through, it’s shocking to see how narrow-minded America was at one point.
I’ll be honest, I shed a tear a few times throughout the film because I think it still hurts to see racism today. Even though it was nothing like it was in the 1940s, the fact that we still struggle to accept people despite differences in our society makes this movie that much more powerful.
Is this a movie that I would recommend to a baseball fan? Absolutely. Any person? The same answer. A baseball purist will probably nitpick the details and accuracies, but that’s not the goal of the film.
This film doesn’t give us every single detail and you can’t when you’re limited to a two-hour film. But what the film does beautifully is captured the hardships and pain that Robinson dealt with throughout this journey to the big leagues. You can feel the struggle between teammates and opposing players on the change of the times. This film captures it and we get a glimpse of the struggle.
And maybe that’s what we really never understood from the Robinson story. Not many of us really got a chance to imagine what pains he went through, what challenges he had. He was a man that had a sense of humor and a desire to do what’s right, but to find that comfort throughout the hate, that is Robinson that we tend to forget.
I think the real hero of this film is Branch Rickey. The vision and the passion he had for the change dared us to see look at ourselves and see how hard we’ve fought for what’s right. Tying into his Christian faith, it really painted an image of how sometimes turning the other cheek can soften a hardened heart. And after all, if we love something so much, wouldn’t we want to help make it better?
Major props in casting Nicole Beharie (Rachel Robinson) and Lucas Black (Pee Wee Reese) for their respective roles. Both of their influence on Robinson throughout the movie really added a touch to his journey, a reminder that sometimes it takes a while for change to really sink in grow.
I doubt you’ll regret going to see this movie. It doesn’t have a glitzy ending or a powerful finale, but the message is worth the price of admission. It’s a great reminder of how far we’ve come and how close we are to finally reaching unity. This movie gets a four out five rating.