42 and Harrison Ford

42 is the story of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson. It tells us how he was elevated from the minor leagues into the ranks of playing for the famous Brooklyn Dodgers. It was the mid 1940's, and baseball was a white man's sport. With the help of Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), Jackie entered the major leagues with a tumultuous and controversial start. The whole Dodgers team had to endure an onslaught of hate, death threats, and racism with Robinson bravely at the forefront.

This movie is very paint-by-numbers in many regards, choosing its battles carefully. It reminded me of the bio pic Ray, with Jamie Fox playing Ray Charles. Only 42, unlike many other movies about equality and racial justice, pulls many punches. This may, however, be for the best. While there are a lot of racial slurs and horrible racist attitudes from many of the characters, it never feels like too much, or overbearing. This was very skillfully orchestrated by the filmmakers, and probably the editors. While this probably results in a cleaner finished movie, it also serves to give the movie a more generic feel. Our hero, Jackie Robinson, comes across as more of a made-for-tv hero glossed over in shiny heroism and perfection rather than a real, three dimensional flawed person. His character is, however, faced with many emotional challenges that make the movie more interesting.

Chadwick Boseman was wonderful as Jackie Robinson. Much of the supporting cast was very well chosen, too. Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese, and Christopher Meloni, famous from Law and Order, as ousted Dodgers manager Durocher are both notably good. Nicole Behair is kind of cheesy as Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's stereotypical "supportive but skeptical" wife.

I also have to address Harrison Ford's character and his performance. Branch Rickey, according to the movie, was most instrumental in getting Jackie into the spotlight and pushing forward his career in the major leagues. Ford makes choices in his acting that could be considered bold, or possibly even lazy. It's a tad over the top, and honestly it's one of the strangest performances I've seen from Harrison. But, ultimately, I'm going to give him a pass and the benefit of the doubt because of his track record. When I look at his tenured history as a movie star, and the amazing characters he's created over the years, I tend to think his character choices as Branch Rickey were probably boldness rather than faltering. And, I'm so used to seeing Ford play a certain kind of character, it made it somewhat disconcerting to see him put on that hammy voice and over the top mannerisms as Rickey. But, maybe that's how Rickey really was.

42 is, ultimately, worth a watch. If you're not that familiar with Jackie Robinson, (which I wasn't before seeing this movie), give it a watch. I was only vaguely aware of his accomplishments, and the movie filled in some of the blanks while celebrating his heroism.

Favorite Harrsion Ford movies

Watching 42 got me thinking about my favorite Harrison Ford movies. With the possibility of Ford being in the upcoming  Star Wars movie and Anchorman 2, he's still very much a vibrant part of pop culture, even into his 70's. His characters have filled my childhood with wonder and excitement, and my adulthood with an appreciation for an actor with fantastic ability and charisma. So, here are my favorite Harrison Ford flicks from least to greatest.


10. Firewall 2006 - A more modern Ford action / thriller pic showing that he's still got it.

9. The Fugitive 1993 - a hallmark performance that would have defined the career of a lessor actor. For Harrison, though, it was a mere stepping stone into the 90's. He seemed born to play Dr. Richard Kimble, the man accused of killing his wife and running from the law.

8. Air Force One 1997 - Ford makes the President seem cool. Perfect to play the Commander in Chief and an action hero all in one role.

7. American Graffiti 1973 - One of Ford's first film roles, he plays teenage / early 20's bad boy rebel who challenges his foes to hot rod races.

6. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008 - Yeah, I know this movie's reputation.  But come on, it's Indiana Jones, and Ford still wears the original Indiana costume. And, if you give this movie a second or third viewing, it gets better each time. A legendary role in modern times.

5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989 - The third in a classic series.

4. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi 1983 - The final Han Solo extravaganza.

3. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 1980 - Getting to know Han Solo more in this second Star Wars installment served to solidify Ford as a household name, and he is awesome.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 - The world was introduced to Indiana.

1. Star Wars 1977 - The sarcastic, high flying rogue Han Solo entered our lives and took us on amazing space adventures. Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo.












 


Comments

  1. Thanks for this post...I love Harrison Ford. First, about 42...I agree with basically everything that you are saying here. Good review!

    About Mr. Ford, I like your list. I think that I would have to give Raiders the #1 spot, but I definitely should give the Star Wars movies another look. I think that I would add Morning Glory too. I think that Harrison was celebrated in that movie, as he should be, and it was really fun, and strangely inspiring.

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