BY MICHELLE MEDFORD
If you haven’t seen 42 yet, I feel sorry for you because you missing out. According to EW, it had the biggest box office debut ever for a baseball film, but I felt in my world, with the people I knew, it was highly, highly underrated. I don’t know anyone else who has seen it, let alone praised it, and I find it very sad.
May I ask why you have not seen it yet? It’s based on the true life story of the most influential baseball player in history–which you may argue but 42 is the only retired number for the entire MLB. It was directed and written by Brian Helgeland, the same guy who penned the award-winning, unforgettable Mystic River. It stars Chadwick Boseman as its lead; who doesn’t love a fresh face with talent and charisma? (Memorize that name right now because you will hear it again.) Another promising young actor to look for: Lucas Black as Pee Wee Reese. Even Harrison Ford was pretty good. The beautiful cinematography was done by Don Burgess, who also did Forrest Gump, Cast Away and Book of Eli (underrated cinematography, IMO). It also tells a very important story not just about racism in baseball, but also about the bigger picture of African American struggles in the 1940s. Regardless of your race, you will cry. So with these details in mind, can you please tell me why you haven’t seen it yet?
I saw this movie three week into its run and my theatre was packed. At the end of the film, the audience clapped–one of the few times I’ve actually witnessed this, TIFF aside (because at least at TIFF, the filmmakers are there, but who can hear you clapping at your local theatre?). So, that’s not to say that this film actually went under-appreciated (Obama praised it before its release too, so I guess he does have some sway), it’s just I feel that it flew over the heads of my generation and I can’t comprehend it. Tons of historical biopics get viewed by people my age (even that snorefest The King’s Speech–yeah, what? I said it). It’s not an inaccessible genre, especially when my Facebook is comprised of many university-educated, politically-knowledgeable (and sometimes fuelled) young people, so why was no one talking about it?! As the same people on my Facebook might say: “What in the actual hell.”
Lucky for you, this brilliant, moving film is out on home video this week. So you can (and should) get your hands on a copy. If you do not, feel free to unfriend me.