For Better or Worse, 42 Is Safe
If anything, Jackie Robinson biopic might be a little too reverential
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Apr 12, 2013 11:17 AM CDT
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(Newser) – The Jackie Robinson biopic 42 slides into theaters today, and it's being greeted by a polite ovation from critics, who for the most part seem to admire Robinson's story more than the filmmaking. Here's what people are saying:

  • If director Brian Helgeland's "intention was to tell Jackie's story in a linear, paint-by-numbers fashion, he has achieved that goal," writes James Berardinelli at ReelViews. "The film takes no chances and does nothing bold." Still, he gives it a decent score, saying it's "a worthwhile sports movie" that "evokes powerful emotions" thanks to its compelling story.

  • AO Scott at the New York Times has a more charitable take, writing that Helgeland "has honorably sacrificed the chance to make a great movie in the interest of making one that is accessible and inspiring." The film is pure hero-worship. "It is blunt, simple, and sentimental, using time-tested methods to teach a clear and rousing lesson." In the process, it gives younger viewers an unflinching look at the ugly "world their grandparents were born into."
  • "Chadwick Boseman is perfect as Robinson," gushes Stephen Whitty at the Star-Ledger. "He captures, in a clenched jaw or a sidelong glance, a lifetime's worth of dearly attained dignity." Harrison Ford, meanwhile, might get a supporting actor nod; "it is the first time in years I have seen Ford have fun onscreen." Sure, the movie is "thick with Hollywood cliches … but that doesn't mean it won't make you feel good."
  • Wesley Morris at Grantland complains that the movie is a little too reverential. Robinson doesn't have to change, "White America does. That's great for messaging, but hell on drama." It's the white characters who evolve, not the saint wearing 42. "Having an actor play Robinson makes sense for realism, but most of the time a piece of cardboard with Robinson's likeness would have done the trick."

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
Apr 14, 2013 1:22 PM CDT
Sorry to say, but subtle to strong dislike (call it racism, sexism, anti-semitism, whatever you want) will always exist among all people against all other people. While we have made great strides in allowing people to be themselves in America that unfortunate quality of human nature will always exist. Saw a great quote the other day - "Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts the way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people." Author is Arthur Forman. Basically tolerance. Some are fortunate and smart enough to practice it. Others are not. This is true for all races, creeds, and people. Is not owned to any specific group but to all.
Apr 12, 2013 12:38 PM CDT
Robinson's achievements, his dignity and his skills and abilities don't need to be "Hollywood-ed." It's one of those stories that are sufficient unto themselves and should just be told.
Apr 12, 2013 12:00 PM CDT
Wow, where have I been the last few months. Never even knew this movie was coming out. Just watched a preview and think it looks pretty good. They must not be doing a good job of publicizing this, which would be a shame. I saw 50 previews for the "Knocked Up" sequel "Life at 40" that played in nearly every commercial break, but a decent movie like this, I have seen nothing until today. What a sad reflection on what movies they really try to pump up before release.