42 2013

Critics score:
79 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: Robinson's story had so much drama in real life, and his sacrifice and pain made such a lasting influence, that "42" ends up being effective in its gee-whiz way almost in spite of itself. Read more

Mary F. Pols, TIME Magazine: It's not easy to play a stoic, but Boseman anchors the movie, and when he smiles, 42, already such a warm story of such cold times, gets even brighter. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: By burnishing Jackie Robinson's legend to such an unnaturally high polish, 42 does Robinson the man (and the actor who plays him, the relative newcomer Chadwick Boseman) a disservice. Read more

A.O. Scott, New York Times: Though not accurate in every particular, the movie mostly succeeds in respecting the facts of history and the personality of its hero, and in reminding audiences why he mattered. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: With 42, [Helgeland] expands his skills to turn a mountain of research into a cogent life story worth retelling. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Mr. Helgeland's ponderously reverential biopic is a string of unearned runs. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: There's not enough of Robinson's back story to convey the full drama of his place in history. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: "42" can feel incomplete (the bland music and the filmmaker's obsession with dates and places are problematic), yet at the same time it offers a very good place to start. Read more

Scott Foundas, Variety: A relentlessly formulaic biopic that succeeds at transforming one of the most compelling sports narratives of the 20th century into a home run of hagiography. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: It's thoroughly embalmed in the glossy lacquer of conventional baseball movies, and limited further by trying to deal with the horrors of racism in that context. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: Helgeland has given us an impressive introduction to one of the most important men in U.S. history. But you can't help wanting more. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: If you want a crowd-pleaser that confirms your belief in America's steady, pre-ordained progression away from racism, this will do fine. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: Ironically, the most valuable player here is Harrison Ford, giving one of the best performances of his career as Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: "42" settles for too little, for being an attractive primer, an introduction to the legend of Robinson and the faith that saw him through. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: The filmmaking is TV-movie-of-the-week dull and Robinson's ordeal is hammered home to the exclusion of virtually everything else in his life. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: 42 escapes the trappings of sheer hero worship largely thanks to Boseman, whose relative anonymity eliminates any potential star baggage. More than that, he strikes a tough balance. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: This story inspires and entertains with a vital chapter in this nation's history. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: If anybody deserves to be portrayed as noble, it's Jackie Robinson. Read more

Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com: Even the most woefully sports-ignorant probably know all the plot points here by heart. For all its feel-good sports-movie predictability, 42 ... is surprisingly effective and even, at a couple of points, moving. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: There are many less flattering things you could say about a movie than that it's enjoyable in a square, uncomplicated, stirringly old-fashioned way. Read more

Laremy Legel, Film.com: "A kind and decent film, though it doesn't add to Robinson's legacy." Read more

Wesley Morris, Grantland: So 66 years after Robinson became the first black major league baseball player, here we are with 42, which has been made with such reverence for Robinson's importance that Robinson is barely there. Read more

David Germain, Associated Press: For all the hate and hostility it depicts, 42 is a film about decent-hearted people. Hate can be infectious, but so can decency. It's the decency you'll take away from 42. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: Rather than letting its hero's accomplishments and behavior speak for themselves, Helgeland hammers home every achievement and then puts a halo around it, as if anyone won't get it otherwise. Read more

Charlie McCollum, San Jose Mercury News: If you want a sense of a true all-American hero, this film is a fine place to start. Read more

Connie Ogle, Miami Herald: The beauty of the Jackie Robinson story is that it's so naturally inspiring that not even lethal amounts of bombast, sentimental writing, soaring strings, hammy acting or desperate hyperbole can tarnish it beyond repair. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: This big-budget period piece is more concerned with burnishing a legend than dramatizing a life. Read more

David Denby, New Yorker: A square, uninventive, but detailed and stirring bio-pic devoted to the two years in an athlete's life that changed a nation. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: [Boseman] captures, in a clenched jaw or a sidelong glance, a lifetime's worth of dearly attained dignity and barely contained rage. Read more

Bob Mondello, NPR: Shameless, sure. But effective. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: It's a sports film nonsports fans can love; it's a family film that never preaches; it's a biopic that also takes in the world and people around its subject. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: An inspiring, old-school biopic that doesn't pull any punches in depicting the ugly racism that Jackie Robinson faced on a daily basis as the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: It's a great and triumphant story, and writer and director Brian Helgeland (an Oscar winner for his L.A. Confidential screenplay) brings it to life in burnished, old-fashioned Hollywood style. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: It's worth seeing because the film is competently presented and the story is inherently important, but I couldn't help be disappointed that the result wasn't more fresh or visionary. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com: "This is a competent but mostly unexceptional film about a most extraordinary man." Read more

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times: "42" is competent, occasionally rousing and historically respectful - but it rarely rises above standard, old-fashioned biography fare. It's a mostly unexceptional film about an exceptional man. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: At the top of a new baseball season, it's hard not to root for a movie that's in it for the love of the game. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: A dramatization of what Robinson did and what it required, 42 will not disappoint. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: It's a valuable history lesson, an intelligent drama that hits all the right emotional buttons, and an inspiring portrait of a true American hero. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The inspirational movie named for Robinson's number is too dignified to throw audiences a curveball, let alone a knockdown pitch, but its solid fundamentals make it a winner. Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: In the hallowed frames of 42, the legend is front and centre and still inspiring. Too bad the more interesting man is nowhere to be seen. Read more

Bruce Demara, Toronto Star: Well-paced and often riveting, and manages to inspire while remaining true to the sport and to the player who changed it and all of professional sport forever. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: For all the 1940s hokiness of 42, with its big cars and big bands and peanuts and Cracker Jack, it's a wonderful surprise to see that there's a recognizable human being at the center of the hoopla. Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: The style of the film, lush and traditional, is nothing special, but the takeaway, a daily struggle for dignity, is impossibly moving. Read more

Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice: A likable hagiography as nuanced as a plaque at the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. Read more

Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture: As Robinson, Boseman has both physical grace and sly charm. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: A stirring, straightforward and ultimately soaring portrayal of Robinson's historic entry into Major League Baseball in 1947. Read more