42 (2013)

This is a story about an old white man who overcomes prejudices of baseball fans by locating a black man who could play the game, recruiting him from the Negro Leagues, and elevating him to starter on the team in spite of the the protestations and threats leveled against him. We find out what his motivations are and how he's atoning for the perceived lack of action in his own past when he could have single-handedly ended racism in the past.

This old man is played by the impressively old Harrison Ford. I suspect he had to import some type of prosthesis to keep those eyebrows up there on his forehead, but the craggy voice that always sounds as if it emanates from a throat that needs clearing and the random pointing at things when he's upset is all Harrison. His character manages to bring all of baseball together behind the idea of integrating black and white players on the field in an almost historically accurate celebration of what old white men can do when they set their minds to it.

Unexpectedly, Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly - and if you haven't watched Firefly, you can only blame yourself) plays a horrible, horrible, racist, redneck, idiotic dufus manager of a competing team who has nothing more interesting to yell than just a stream of the N-word over and over again. I can only imagine how uncomfortable he must have been just playing that character. In the grand scheme of the movie, however, his character is a blip.

Christopher Meloni ditches Law and Order: SVU to come play the manager of the Dodgers who gives a stirring speech to his men about the importance of winning over their own racism, even though he never actually interacts with a black man through the course of the movie. He does a reasonable job with his role, and it's nice to see another brave white man out there fighting for the rights of black men everywhere (or at least on the ball field).

Lucas Black, fresh from the horrific event that was Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift, is also here to defend the rights of black men to play the game. Contrary to what you might think based on his name, he is not actually black; turns out, that is not a requirement of having the last name Black. Also, don't confuse him with funnyman Lewis Black from The Daily Show. That guy is also not black, but he's not in this movie.

The movie progressed as you might expect, and it wasn't really all that interesting. I know it is getting rave reviews from other people, and it has been generally well-received. The problem is that everything has to be WAY too dramatic. I mean, when the token black man in this movie actually rounds the bases or plays on the ball, he does it in the same slow motion that Jean Claude Van Damme does on his kicks. This man, played by Chadwick Boseman and called Jackie Robinson, exists only so white men can either be mad at him or be proud of him for not losing his crap at the jerks he meets.

Really, the most disappointing thing was that this movie was titled 42, yet it appears to have nothing to do with Douglas Adams or any part of the Hitchhikers trilogy. I tried to see some parallel, but I can't find anything. Hitchhikers was better written and more entertaining by a long way.

The acting was very good.
Cinematography was excellent.
Direction was bad. This movie needed to be about Jackie Robinson - it wasn't.
Storyline was nothing groundbreaking (unlike the real life story).
Dialogue was pretty rough.
Soundtrack was forgettable.

2.0/5

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