With the Los Angeles Dodgers battling the St. Louis Cardinals for a trip to the World Series, now is the perfect time to watch “42” on DVD. This beautifully crafted sports biopic tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball, and of Branch Rickey, the feisty GM who signed him to the then Brooklyn Dodgers. The movie gives us both an inspiring story of human triumph over seemingly insurmountable obstacles and the best baseball flick in years.
In his breakout film role, Chadwick Boseman perfectly paints a quietly heroic portrait of a young man who simply wanted to play baseball. He defies the ugly face of racism by swallowing his pride and doing his fighting on the diamond to lead his team and ultimately his country to a winning season. With athletic good looks, an engaging smile and a solid sense of self-worth, Boseman easily and instantly has us rooting for him from the start. The old veteran Harrison Ford gives his finest character performance as Rickey, a strong willed man with stronger convictions and an intense love of the game. Though Ford used facial prosthetics and a fat suit to aid him in becoming Rickey, it is his humanity and total commitment to Rickey’s character that shines through.
Writer-director Brian Helgeland (“Payback”) gives us a gorgeous movie with a romanticized yet accurate looking depiction of the 1940’s and some of the best baseball photography ever. His camera gets up close right behind the plate to see the bat connect with the ball and launch it into the outfield. Such shots are integrated into the scenes so smoothly and happen so quickly that you don’t fully realize their artistry until after the fact. Just as Robinson did for Rickey, “42” will make you love the game of baseball again.