42 (2013) 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball.

Though many talented black players exist in the Minor Leagues, Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) thinks it is time to challenge segregation and take the sport forward. He wants to find a player who is not only exceptionally talented, but can face up to the onslaught of vicious racism likely to come his way, as the first black man on an all-white team. One name keeps coming up: Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman).

Talented as a base-stealer, Jackie has only one problem -- a vicious temper. Known for his tendency to stand up for himself, Jackie will refuse to buy gas at stations that won't let him use the "white's only" bathroom. But Branch thinks he has a chance, so he offers him the opportunity of a lifetime -- learn to control your temper, and you can make history. Elated, Jackie agrees. With his wife (Nicole Beharie) in tow, he heads for spring training.

But he doesn't just face racism in the stands. The other players don't want him there, either. And the first season they are about to have, will change them all forever.

42 is not only a beautiful tribute to a remarkable man, it is a memorable lesson in self-control. Perhaps its most powerful message is that unsavory things, like racism, can force other people to also become heroes. In two of its most lingering scenes, Jackie faces an onslaught of abuse that is finally so bad, it forces his "racist" team-mates to defend him. One of them thanks him for being on the team, and for this moment, because it has allowed him to "show people who I truly am." Jackie's incredible grace, in how he again and again controls his temper, even when it breaks him down in tears, is more memorable than the rest of the story. The movie, of course, does not talk about how much his faith influences this decision, but it does allude to it, in his deeds.  In that sense, he is the best kind of witness, a man who lives his faith, even if the script does not allow him to "preach" it.

I knew nothing about Jackie other than his legacy before seeing this film. It's beautifully done, but, as are all films that contain racist segregation, hard to watch. Jackie is turned away from hotels. Screamed at from the stands. But he also inspires people. Unites them. And plays ball, with a sense of humor and transcendent grace. Rather than knock the block off a pitcher determined to get to him, Jackie turns the tables on him -- and plays mind games with him, as he prepares to steal bases. It's beautiful. Though the language can get salty at times, it's a wonderfully acted, well-written, and fine period piece that will shape your perception of baseball's most memorable black player, for a long, long time.

Sexual Content
A man calls another man in the middle of the night, and wakes him up in bed with his mistress; he tells him the Bible has a few things to say about adultery. A married couple kiss and embrace. A man yells derogatory things at Jackie, including speculating which one of the other players' wives he will "climb on tonight."
 
Language:
Several uses of GD. Several abuses of Jesus' name. Other general profanities. Lots of racial slurs (the n-word is repeatedly shouted from the stands / dugout / used in reference to Jackie).
 
Violence:
Characters discuss Jackie's past history of beating up people who disrespect him; his new boss tells him he wants someone with the moral strength and courage not to fight back. Racists threaten Jackie with violence, telling his companions that if he is still there when they get back, he'll regret it (they get him out of there, quick). A brawl breaks out among the baseball players over an argument. Jackie endures racial taunts and insults, then leaves the field, and smashes his baseball bat to bits in a rage. 

Other:
Period-authentic but hard-to-listen-to racism.