COLUMN: ’42’: a sports film with plenty of heart and impact

Rob Le Cates

Drew Coffey is a sophomore television/video production major. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

Drew Coffey, Columnist

Based on the true story of Jackie Robinson, “42” is a film that adequately focuses on how the first African American baseball player changed the sport forever.  

The film was directed by Brian Helgeland and stars the late Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the man who gave Robinson the opportunity to play in the major leagues.  

To start, Chadwick Boseman is outstanding as Jackie Robinson and channels such an appropriate energy with his depiction of the ball player.  

With the film taking place in the 1940’s, African Americans were not treated with respect especially in the field of sports.

So, Boseman’s performance shows a man hardened by the times and quick to fight back against those who mistreat him.  

It is this toughness that makes him the best player for Branch Rickey, a baseball executive, to pick to break through the baseball race barrier.  

While he is a man who is aware of the times, that does not make him emotionally dull. There are many surprisingly funny moments in the film that really show Robinson’s personality despite the hardships he experienced at the time.  

One scene that is extremely impressive is a moment where Robinson finally breaks under scrutiny and abuse and breaks down in the middle of a game.  

Harrison Ford is also terrific as Rickey as he shares many touching and heartfelt moments with Boseman throughout the film.  

In terms of pacing, the film is relatively fast paced without skipping important parts of Robinsons baseball career. While I say that, there are moments especially in the beginning that seem to go by in the blink of an eye.  

For example, the decision to pick Robinson as the first professional African American baseball player is too quick.

It is understandable to think that they just picked a player out of a hat which is true, but I just hoped that they would spend a little more time on the decision as it is a groundbreaking moment for the sport.  

With that said, I respect the film’s decision to focus on the baseball aspect more than Robinson’s personal life throughout.

With many adaptations and documentaries going into all the aspects of his life, it was good to see the stories of other characters on the team and how Robinson’s presence changed their lives in many ways.  

The film is very well shot, especially in the baseball scenes. With many quick cuts and surprisingly tense moments, the film really does get a poignant, emotional reaction from the audience.  

Overall, the film significantly delivers on a human level showing how Jackie Robinson became a beacon of hope for not just African American athletes, but African Americans in general.

It is that focus on Robinson’s impact on history that makes the film extremely rich and educational for both film buffs and those interested in his remarkable story.  

My overall rating: 4/5 

Drew Coffey is a sophomore television/video production major. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.