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Movie Review

42

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements including language.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Biography Sports Drama
Length:
2 hr. 8 min.
Year of Release:
2013
USA Release:
April 12, 2013 (wide—2,900+ theaters)
DVD: July 16, 2013
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

COURAGE AND BRAVERY—It takes great strength to resist the natural urge to fight back in anger when faced with persecution and unfairness.

Living God’s way, ultimately gives us both dignity and honor.

importance of standing up for what is right and defending the persecuted

difficulties of being a black baseball player and star in the 1940s

Wesley Branch Rickey—known for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier

Jackie Robinson

“Negro league baseball” (Wikipedia)

Pee Wee Reese—famous for his support of his teammate Jackie Robinson

Ben Chapman

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Featuring: Alan Tudyk … Ben Chapman
Harrison FordBranch Rickey
Chadwick Boseman … Jackie Robinson
Ryan Merriman … Dixie Walker
Lucas BlackPee Wee Reese
Christopher Meloni … Leo Durocher
Gino Anthony Pesi … Joe Garagiola
more »
Director: Brian Helgeland—wrote screenplays for “Robin Hood” (2010), “L.A. Confidential,” “Mystic River”
Producer: Legendary Pictures
Thomas Tull … producer
more »
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Jackie Robinson (portrayed by Chadwick Boseman) was not only a baseball legend, but a man of courage that kept a strong faith, even during the most excruciating moments in a very racist culture. In a game divided by racial segregation, Robinson united the world of baseball by being the first African-American baseball player to play outside of the Negro Leagues.

But it isn’t easy being the first African-American on an all white baseball field. While constantly being discriminated against, hurled with insults, and even receiving death threats, Robinson has to take a stance for equality by setting a high moral example for us all.

However, we can really thank the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), for being willing to take on the task of bringing the very first African-American into the major leagues. Together, Robinson and Rickey made history and brought a nation divided by racial segregation closer, as a whole; even if it was through the all American sport of baseball. Rickey saw potential in not just Robinson, but many players in the Negro Leagues and was willing to take that first big step of bringing an African-American player into the ball club. It was his faith and yearning for equality that brought a divided game and nation closer together.

“42” is a phenomenal story of faith, trust, perseverance, love, and friendship. But most of all, the film’s realistic portrayal of racial segregation stirs up an audience’s emotions and really brings the historical events to life through its outstanding performances, musical score, cinematography, production design and direction. The 1940s are brought back to life for its two hours. Because of the film’s strong writing, I actually started to feel the emotional stress Jackie Robinson was going through. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in that man’s position.

In terms of the film’s content of concern, the script includes a handful of profanities, including a single use each of the s-word, a**, and b**tard. God’s name is paired with d*mn 4 times, and we hear the words S.O.B. (3) and h*ll (14). As one can expect from a film with the theme of racial segregation, the n-word is used a lot—close to forty times. We must remember that such discriminating language was used extensively during this time period. There’s also one racist comment towards Jews.

There is some mild sports violence, including Robinson getting beaned in the head by a pitch, spiked in the leg by an opponent’s cleats (we his stitches later on), and a few small scuffles between players, including a bench clearing brawl. Robinson also gets threatened a number of times (some including death threats) and smashes a bat against a wall in frustration.

There is some light drinking and smoking in the film, and there is some light sexual content, as well, including a reference to pregnancy and periods. Married couples kiss, and we see shirtless players in locker rooms, sometimes just wearing towels. A man is shown in bed with a woman whom we later find out he isn’t married to (they're mostly covered in sheets; he’s shirtless and she’s wearing a nightgown). Because of his acts, he eventually gets suspended because a Catholic organization threatens to boycott the Dodgers. We see the same man in his boxers in another scene. We also see Robinson kiss his wife’s chest tenderly (she’s wearing a nightgown), as he tells her that “she has his heart”. An opposing team’s coach implies that Robinson is sleeping around with some of his teammate’s wives (he isn’t). A joke also arises when one of Robinson’s teammates tries to convince him to take a shower with the rest of the team.

But amidst some mild language and light sexual content, viewers can pull a lot of positive and inspiring messages from “42”. Although Jackie Robinson’s Christian faith isn’t displayed in the film, the audience can still see that he is a man of character that never backed down and kept a very strong faith. Deuteronomy 31:6 comes to mind when watching Robinson’s bold character:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (ESV)

1 Corinthians 16:13 also says to…

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

Even through the most excruciating moments of discrimination, Robinson stands firm, and it is apparent that he keeps a strong faith.

As a Methodist, Branch Rickey exercised a strong faith as well. He quotes some Scripture to Robinson. He tells him that when insults are hurled against him to just “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) and to “love his neighbor” (Mark 12:31). Robinson also tells Rickey that God built him to last, and Rickey later says the same thing about Robinson to one of his colleagues. Rickey even reprimands one of his colleagues by telling him that “The Bible has a thing or two to say about adultery” when he figures out there is an affair going on.

“In a game divided by color, he made us see greatness”. That tagline perfectly sums up the story of Jackie Robinson. He inspired many and made us see, well… greatness. Through his strong faith, character, and integrity, he earned not only the respect of many of his teammates, but fans. He made us see that we are created equal and that each and every one of us deserves a fair chance in life.

I highly recommend “42” with slight caution (ages 12-13+ based on maturity) due to its intense themes of racism, momentary language, and light sexual content. There are so many great themes and messages that we as Christians can use for discussion. May the legacy of Jackie Robinson live on. “42” is nothing short of a tribute to a man who made us see greatness.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27—ESV)

Violence: Mild to moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild to moderate

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and ChristianityGet biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Growing up in the north, I have always viewed racism as incomprehensible, which made it difficult to enjoy even such classics as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Defiant Ones,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”. Thus, I avoided this movie until my son gave it a high recommendation, and I found it clearly a cut above the others. The writers, actors, cinematographers and musicians have hit this one out of the park, and God’s love is woven into its fabric in a way that is clear, but more likely to entice than offend the atheist. Run, don’t walk, to see “42.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Brian Schacht, age 66 (Canada)
Positive—This is a very well done bio pic about baseball player, Jackie Robinson, who played 42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The screenplay covered many themes, including biographical details, racism, and baseball culture and politics in a clear, concise, well-balanced exposition, handling all issues with good taste.

Newcomer Chadwick Boseman nailed the persona of Jackie Robinson and was a real look-alike. The key role for me was the spectacular performance by Harrison Ford of Branch Rickey, the baseball executive who hired Jackie Robinson because he knew he could help the Dodgers win. I rarely give a move a full 5 points for artistic merit, but this movie did everything it was supposed to do and did it beautifully. This is an interesting and uplifting film, and I personally think it could have had a PG rating, instead of PG-13.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Halyna Barannik, age 67 (USA)
Positive—When I was a child, my parents gave me a children’s book. It contained short pieces of literature on some of the world’s most inspirational heroes. One of those heroes that I read about was Jackie Robinson. His story of bravery, courage, and suffering in the face of adversity was something I was pleased with. Looking back, Jackie modeled the same attitude that Jesus had when he was faced with adversity and didn’t strike back, but endured. So, when I heard they were making a film about Jackie Robinson, I said, “It’s about time” and was excited by the previews.

Harrison Ford was good as Ranch Rickey. But the actor who played Jackie (whose name escapes me)? Phenomenal! He doesn’t say much, but in essence he said so much just by NOT saying anything at all. I saw the conflicting emotions, the pain he went through just by looking into his eyes. I was truly impressed with his performance and hope that he continues to pursue other films in the future (we have not seen the last of him, since this is, I believe his debut film). more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Alexander Malsan, age 23 (USA)
Positive—“42” is a very good film depicting the racial problems African Americans had to go through in the 40s. The film is a very positive film showing you should never let people stand in the way of achieving your dreams. The acting is great, especially Harrison Ford. The love story between Jackie Robinson and his wife is very sweet. This is a great film for everyone. There is some mild profanity and several racial remarks, but that is to be expected. I highly recommend this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Joseph Gambone, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I saw this movie this afternoon and thought it was really terrific. There was mostly an older crowd and everyone spontaneously applauded when it was over which doesn’t happen too often when you go to the movies. There are several positive Bible, God, and Jesus references throughout the film. The movie ends with the song “The Ball Game” by Sister Wynona Carr from around that time in history. Google it, if you want to read the lyrics… very Christian.

There are several swears which were a few GD’s and SOB's, h's, and one sh. There is also reference to adultery, but this is presented as against what it says in the Bible and as wrong behaviour. Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman give excellent acting performances as does the rest of the cast. It is all very believable because it is a sensitive biopic and not overdone.

It is incredible that such prejudice and discrimination went on not that long ago in history, when my parents were about 12 years old. Parts are hard to watch and the N word is never comfortable to hear. There is a good balance of humour, drama and touching moments. I’m sure it will be up for some Academy Awards. Even the critics like it and they hate most movies with good values and Christian overtones. I’d certainly recommend this inspiring film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Kathy PJ, age 52 (Canada)
Positive—My teenage son took me to ‘42’ for Mother’s Day, and we were both inspired by this true story of the great hero, Jackie Robinson. It was also nice to see several multigenerational families enjoying the film with us that day. The moviemakers did a good job of weaving together the events that led up to Mr. Robinson becoming a Brooklyn Dodger during the 1940s. Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of him was excellent, as he showed a man of great character overcoming the odds stacked against him to achieve his goal. Nicole Beharie was lovely as his encouraging wife.

It was a treat to see Harrison Ford in the role of the tough, yet wise, Branch Ricky, and I looked forward to each of his scenes. The issue of prejudice was shown for what it is, and although hard to watch was not overdone. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Stephanie, age 52 (USA)
Positive—This is a truly fantastic movie. I would recommend it as a family movie as it demonstrates strong morals through-out. I would also like to send a sincere thank-you to the producers. We need more of this type of entertainment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Diana, age 49 (Canada)
Neutral
Neutral—This movie was made very well. It was very touching and inspirational. Both Branch Ricky and Robinson were amazingly brave men. That being said, it had a lot of swear words, including the only one the Bible says not to say. Unless you include the words Racca and thou fool… But really, given the true nature of the film it would be difficult to really portray anything like how it was without the use of the offensive words.

It was a controversial subject whose whole message rests on the opposition to and overcoming of racism. I doubt it would be possible to exude the reprehensible actions of those opposed to Robinson without using bad language, and frankly I would imagine what they did do fell far short anyway. I don’t think I would buy it and probably won’t see it again. I wouldn’t have watched it, had I waited for the review, because I simply will not knowingly support using the Lord’s name in vain. I believe these lessons can be taught without the shock value.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Chris, age 47 (USA)
Negative

none

Comments from young people
Positive—…was quite pleased with it. As a baseball fanatic, I was happy to see that the baseball action was very realistic, and well done. I thought the acting was very well played, with Harrison Ford being outstanding as Mr. Ricky.

Of course, a recurring theme in the movie is Jackie overcoming racism to establish himself as a ballplayer. There is a ton of “N” words, and other slurs. There were times when a sheriff walked him off the field under threat of arrest for being African American. He had to leave in the middle of the night to avoid a possible mob. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Luis, age 17 (USA)

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