Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
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
“Negro league baseball” (Wikipedia)
Pee Wee Reese—famous for his support of his teammate Jackie Robinson
Alan Tudyk … Ben Chapman
Harrison Ford … Branch Rickey
Chadwick Boseman … Jackie Robinson
Ryan Merriman … Dixie Walker
Lucas Black … Pee Wee Reese
Christopher Meloni … Leo Durocher
Gino Anthony Pesi … Joe Garagiola
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|Director||Brian Helgeland—wrote screenplays for “Robin Hood” (2010), “L.A. Confidential,” “Mystic River”|
Thomas Tull … producer
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|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.
Violence: Mild to moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild to moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.