Belated Film Review: ’42’ Arrives About 42 Years Late


by Connor Foote

Lotus Land Correspondent, White Cover Magazine


You don’t need to see this movie.

Do you know who Jackie Robinson is? Do you know his story?

Well, if you don’t, are you at least aware that he was the first black player in Major League Baseball? Are you aware that white people might not have liked this? Are you aware that Florida is south of Brooklyn and has different rules, boy? Are you aware that bathrooms were WHITES ONLY? Are you aware that baseball is America’s game?

42 isn’t named 42 because of Jackie’s number. No, it’s named 42 because it’s probably 42 years late.

42 should have been the first flick we saw of this now-tired formula. And, while I may seem crass or crude, just know that I am absolutely not trying to minimize the hardship of Mr. Robinson or the many who suffered through the same destructive and crushing oppression of racist America, and I know the problem is far from finished.

Still, this is a movie, and it’s about as old as the post-World War II world it’s desperate to depict.

We’ve seen Remember the Titans (13 years ago) and Glory Road (seven years ago). We get it. Rocks thrown through windows and biased white refs and umps, and all that. We’ve seen A Time to Kill and Mississippi Burning. And, in a year where Django Unchained tossed the United States’s racist history into the fan and let it spray — quite literally — all over us and every one of its characters, 42 is more of a pussy-footing attempt at a Lifetime movie than it is a real movie.

Even flicks like Chariots of Fire are given their spots of tribute in 42. Every time something uplifting or inspirational happens, the film’s cast and crew are desperate to make sure you know, courtesy of constant chin-lifts toward the skies and slow rolling opera music.

We get it. It’s a big deal. It was a big deal.

But, really, ESPN could have done a better job, and they probably already have. You didn’t need to force Harrison Ford or Steve the Pirate (Dodgeball) into this film. You didn’t even need to blast Jay Z’s “Brooklyn We Go Hard” in the trailer (above).

The problem 42 has is the same problem Invictus had. It’s too caught up in its own waft of righteousness to actually tell a story. The whole film is marred by the feeling that you could always be watching something better. You could always be watching something less obvious.

If you’re going to make a movie about Jackie Robinson, you better come to play. You better hire the right director and the right actors and write the right script.

This should be great. It has to be great. It’s not.