“42†is breakout role for Boseman

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Peyton Callanan

Sports movies are a breed of their own, most following a similar formula with players overcoming hardship backed by a grandiose soundtrack and a few cheesy lines about success and drive.

“42,” the story of Jackie Robinson, who was the first black man in Major League Baseball, is no different from its predecessors. It has its fair share of cliché moments that are meant to pull at your heartstrings, even when you know in the end that Robinson succeeds. Strong acting and an unflinching representation of racism keep that old formula looking fresh.

The soul of this movie is found within the rapport between its two lead actors, Harrison Ford (“Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones”) as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive, and Chadwick Boseman (“Lincoln Heights”) as Robinson.

The movie starts out a bit clunky but really hits its stride when Boseman dances across the field as Robinson for the first time.

The movie did not shy away from the racial slurs Robinson heard when he took the field. The way Boseman played the verbally abused Robinson is powerful against such strong words.

It is riveting to watch two actors at very different stages in their careers immerse themselves into these characters – one an aging Hollywood A-lister and the other a nearly-unknown with his whole career ahead of him.

There are moments when Ford is walking a fine line of over-the-top in this portrayal of Rickey. He acts as if he is a theater actor playing for the people in the back seats, but he brings so much to life in his portrayal of Rickey, a wise miser who was the puppet master behind Robinson’s rise to fame. It is nice to know that his greatest roles are not all behind him.

Boseman is the yin to Ford’s yang. He doesn’t have as many great lines as Ford, but he has more presence on screen that a simple smile or crinkle in his brow says everything and more about his character.

If the soul of the movie is the relationship between Rickey and Robinson, then the heart is the love story between Robinson and his wife Rachel, played by Nicole Beharie (“Shame”).

The two actors ooze chemistry that makes even the cheesiest of lines easy to swallow. It is refreshing to see a love story portrayed by two black actors front and center in a movie that is not directed by Tyler Perry for once.

Bottom line is this is a great movie for people who love sports movies even if it doesn’t do anything to break the mold. Hopefully though, it will be the movie everyone remembers as Boseman’s breakout role on his way to dominating Hollywood.