Zachary Durand, ‘Doah Staff Writer
April 24, 2013
For those of you who are history and/or sports fanatics, it is plastered all over the timeline of 20th century America that baseball icon Jackie Robinson lived a life that was not to be taken for granted. He wrote in his autobiography “I Never Had It Made” that even two decades after his titanic achievements in baseball, he could not get himself to salute the American flag or stand for the National Anthem.
The man had a coarse journey ahead of him if he were to change the game of baseball. Going against the trials and tribulations of an era and of a generation to pursue the love of the game surely has — or in this case, had the potential to be — an Oscar front-runner in the blooming Awards season. Yet, “42,” barely hits a run to first base when depicting the grit and cruelty Robinson must’ve endure.
Writer-director Brian Helgeland created a picture that looked like it was spawned out of the Hallmark Channel versus the studio conglomerate Relativity Media. With a script that rarely tugs at the heartstrings, Helgeland wrote a screenplay filled with cartoonish caricatures rather than diving head-on into the barbarism of a black man entering the “whites-only” game.
Due to the lack of character development, Robinson, stoically portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, has difficulty being anything more than contemplative and frustrated. As Robinson’s heaviest advocate, Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) brings light-hearted humor to the piece. For those who have followed Ford’s career beyond that galaxy far, far away, it was quite amusing to see Ford don prosthetics as well as be the good guy without the drive of vengeance attached to him.
Don’t get me wrong, this picture does lend itself to be an entertaining history lesson — just one that has been tailored for the sixth-graders in the theatre.