Baseball season is back, even on At the Movies. This week Peter Travers, bat in hand, discusses the new Jackie Robinson biopic, 42: The True Story of an American Legend, which stars relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman as the first African-American major leaguer and Harrison Ford – “who not only chews the scenery, he chews bats,” says Travers – as Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey.
While the performances are good, Travers notes that screenwriter and director Brian Helgeland only tells the “official” story of Robinson, the one of the man who put his head down and played ball despite all the horrible things he endured. “But as we found out later with Jackie Robinson,” Travers says, “he had a lot of internal struggles. He was furious, he had an anger that he took with him where he wouldn’t even sing the National Anthem at a baseball game because he felt so isolated and alone. Do we get that in 42? No, we just get the, ‘Rah rah.'”
If 42 is not a great movie, Travers says it still bursts with a crucial love of the game: “It makes me want to take a bat to everybody that was bad to Jackie Robinson, and everybody who’s bad to me. And I think you should have that same kind of feeling.”