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42

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Sport biopics tend to be either raging successes or dismal failures, very few falling into the middle ground of movie obscurity. 42 starring Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, and Nicole Beharre is a bona fide success. Not only does this picture grant us entry down into the player's dugouts, we're also privy to a brief peek at the negotiations and desperate finagling necessary behind the closed doors of the Brooklyn Dodger's management in their attempt to break the racial barrier.

42 is the story of two extraordinary gentlemen, one with the vision that it was time for a change, and the other with the courage to weather that life-altering decision. Brooklyn Dodger's GM Branch Rickey risked more than just his personal safety when he signed Major League Baseball's first African American player back in 1946; he risked the reputation and the future of the entire Dodger's organization. By accepting Rickey's offer, Jackie Robinson chose to exert a level of courage that few men are even able to muster for a day—never mind an entire season. Robinson convinced teammates, sports fans, and owners alike that the infamous 'color line' was becoming an antiquated idea of the country's past.

Harrison Ford's portrayal of Rickey might just go down in history as a career best, his commitment to the part almost rendering him unrecognizable in the process. Although I would have appreciated some additional background regarding the Dodger's groundbreaking decision, 42 is easily one of the best films of the year to date, and I still find it hard to believe that those societal prejudices were acceptable behavior only 67 years ago.

On an interesting note: Jersey number 42 is the only number retired by all of baseball. Directed
by Brian Helgeland, PG, 128 mins, **** 4 stars out of 5.

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Reviewed by Lynne Martin April 22, 2013
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