Give Yourself The Guts!

42 (2013)
A Review by Ben Hunter
4 Out Of 5 Stars
April 12, 2013

“Get to the Point Ben!” It’s not perfect, but it’s oh so inspirational! 

Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson

“You know what I saw on the playground today on the way over here?  A bunch of kids were playing baseball and a little boy was up to bat … … … … He was pretending he was you … … Wiping his pants from the dirt on his hands … … Swinging with his arms outstretched just like you do … … … … A little white boy … … … … … … pretending …  he was a black man.”

April 15, 1947, Branch Rickey, general manager for The Brooklyn Dodgers, debuts his latest achievement, Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson.  The first Negro baseball player to play in the major leagues! 

A time when segregation was heavily enforced and the natural way of life, when it was unheard of and downright APPUALING to even THINK of a black man to play with the white men  … yet during this time, a little white boy pretends he’s a black athlete! 

INSPIRATIONAL!  A very inspirational movie!  Not perfect, but there were so many moments that make you smile in approval of how much you want Jackie to succeed.  A lot of moments in the film that make you slowly inch your eyebrows together in disgust and disbelief at how segregated the world was back in the post war era.  An engaging film with oh so much quotable dialogue! 

Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), General Manager for the Brookly Dodgers, breaks history and the walls of normality when he signs Jackie Robinson.  The first Negro major league baseball player!
42 informs us of how Negro soldiers fought in decent fashion alongside their white counterparts but to come home to a divided America.  Yet their Caucasian comrades were welcomed with open arms and lots of love.  The film really gives you such an unbelievable and a little overwhelming of a feeling at how we as humans fear the unknown.  Yoda said it best, “fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate … leads to suffering … … [America] I sense much fear in you.” Negroes were not wanted in major league baseball in the late 1940’s!

Jackie heads to Ebbets Field
to make history.
This is a good film for the family.  One for them all to enjoy, provided they could handle the racial slurs.  Yet it isn’t perfect and definitely not Oscar caliber (Harrison Ford was amazing as always though).  However, most families probably won’t care as it’s very engaging and it keeps your interest.  The story structure and the overall plot of what our hero, Jackie (Chadwick Boseman), needs to accomplish and overcome in the end needed to be clearly defined though.  By the time the movie’s over, you understand that point but in a feeling that says, “I came to this on my own independence and not because this story I’ve been following lead me along to properly take me through it.”  In the end you just kind of realize the point of this story was for Jackie to make his home and ground his two feet in major league baseball. 

When you verbalize it like that, it feels blatantly obvious as if you should’ve known that all along; but not until I came to that recognition … on my own, with no help from the movie.  Who knows, it could’ve been about properly segregating Jackie all while trying to win the big World Series game in the end?  They do keep talking about Jackie being drafted because they want to win, right?  I’m glad this wasn’t the case though as I know I personally feel the team that came from nothing and wins the big game in the end storyline has been beaten up, dragged in the dust, and done to death! 

A little guidance goes a long way.  There’s a difference between leading your audience on and leaving them in the dark.  Looking back, now knowing the clearly defined objective, they do make the point clear in the beginning, a great quotable scene between Branch (Harrison Ford) and Jackie, how Branch makes his objective known and what he and Jackie need to do to accomplish it.  However, if the scenes were a little more on the properly written side to flesh out the story and clearly define the plot points and overall objective, I wouldn’t have so much of a, “where are they going with this?” feeling all throughout the film.  With each scene I said this and didn’t know where it was going, and not in the good way.

Chadwick Boseman, great effort buddy!  I’m so glad Hollywood has given a shot to a deserving unknown with credits looking for that big break to get their foot in the door and their career going (but Beyonce, Rihanna, etc usually get those roles and the film’s quality goes in the toilet).  Maybe 42 is your big break!  I feel so proud as a fellow African American actor and filmmaker like you are.  Plus we share a similar name!  I give you a B-, could’ve been better, but wasn’t terrible either.  It’s the scene where you feel, “okay, it’s time to do some acting now, let’s see what you can do Chadwick!” and in that scene I said to myself, “yeah not quite there, but great effort though and the movie’s still inspiring”, a scene that seals the deal that this film just isn’t quite all the way there. But because the film is really inspiring I gave it a half a point more than what I would’ve originally given it.  Entertainment value goes a long way.  This is my standard response to everyone who’s SO surprised and COMPLETELY shocked when a highly commercial film makes it really high up on my year’s end list of favorites.

42 is what Tyler Perry should aspire to (what I almost titled this review).  He could pull something like this off if he really worked hard to break out of the mold that the market he caters to with everything he does worships him for, and why he continues to pump out the products he does, thus continuing the cycle like a hamster on a wheel.  Why Tyler Perry?  Well, because he’s all for uplifting the black community with stories of our culture.  Yet, I’m SO HAPPY that a Caucasian filmmaker (Brian Helgeland) wrote AND directed 42!  This is all proof that we’ve learned from what Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and those alike have all fought for … equality!  I smile whenever I see interracial couples, and children, makes me think of stories like Jackie’s and I just feel a sense of happiness.  America, we’re getting better! 

"I want a player whose got the guts NOT to fight back!" 
When Branch Rickey opened the door for Jackie, he said it would take courage and guts to prove to the world that he belonged there just as much as any other man.  That they would tell him he was inferior, yet if Jackie retaliated then HE would be wrong, regardless of how much they would continue to provoke him.  If Jackie cursed back, his curse would be “wrong” and theirs less severe.  If Jackie fought back, their punch less severe, their kick less severe, their position in this confrontation less wrong than Jackie’s, bottom line.  The only way to win and prove to them all was to keep his composure, show that he was a gentleman of class, and that he could get the job done (this is the scene that tests Boseman’s acting)!  I strive for this everyday, to be a gentleman of elegance and class, who shows doesn’t tell, but shows he can get the job done (thank you screenwriting professor)! 
“You give me a jersey, and a number on my back, and I’ll give you the guts.”

Well, they gave Jackie the number “42”.  His courage and his guts have broken the fear to change the mindset of the normality of those in his era, and inspired the many who heard of his story back then, generations hence. 

So much that today the number “42” is worn by major league baseball players all throughout the month of April in honor of how Jackie stood up in the face of adversity and opened the door for equality! 

Let him open the door for you this April.  You might even do what his teammates did and say,
“Maybe next time I’ll wear the number 42, that way they won’t be able to tell us apart!”

Bring out the number “42” in yourself!

Give yourself the guts! 

42: The True Story of an 
American Legend
Drama, 128 Minutes, PG-13
Written & Directed by: Brian Helgeland
Cast: Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, Nicole Beharie, & Christopher Meloni 

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