42 (My First Attempt At A Short Review)

31 Mar

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Synopsis: “The life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.” (Rated PG-13; 2 hours, 8 minutes)

The first of MANY movies I am behind on reviewing since my blog-hiatus. Now to see if I’m actually capable of making good on my promise from a few days ago: keeping them SHORT. One thing going in my favor is that all of this time removed from actually seeing the movies makes me forget so many details, so I must have less to say, right?!

This movie – by now out on DVD – is an extremely well made, likable and earnest biopic about Jackie Robinson. I point out its earnestness because that is a trait that (with good reason) can take away from the quality of a movie. To give you examples of the spectrum of schmaltz versus rawness:

Schmaltz – Most Spielberg movies, as previously discussed in my review of (the very good film) The Impossible

Rawness – One of my favorite movies of the past few years, End Of Watch.

To best put a finger on one versus the other, an earnest movie with schmaltz will usually swell the music during key moments, and make sure that there are lines throughout the movie that really…put…a…lump…in…our…throat. The raw movies, on the other hand, usually rely on the story and images to speak for themselves, and when they are effective they can wow me like no other.

This isn’t to say I consider one to be “better” than another, they are simply very different techniques, and some people will argue that schmaltz is a lazy way to manipulate the audience, I would argue that one of the reasons I GO to the movie theater in the first place is to be manipulated by the filmmaker… within reason.

So what about 42, which contains impassioned speeches, swelling music, and earnest acting performances? I really enjoyed it, from start to finish. An interesting movie that allowed me to learn more about the man who “crossed the color barrier” in my favorite sport, all done with really solid acting. Far and away the most memorable performances came from Harrison Ford and Alan Tudyk. Harrison Ford is an actor I really miss. Two of my favorite all time roles are Han Solo and Indiana Jones, and I can’t even start to imagine anyone else with the charisma or machismo to fill those shoes as perfectly. But for the past 17 years or so he’s really done nothing memorable (yes, Air Force One was 17 years ago). Since then he grumbles his way through roles the same boring way he grumbles his way through real life interviews, and it’s frustrating for a fan like myself. (Here is a blurb that awesomely sums it up.) In 42 however he was funny and I actually found myself rooting for him to get his first nomination since 1985 (for Witness).

Alan Tudyk, on the other hand, is always amazing, and usually he’s amazingly FUNNY (if you haven’t yet seen the maddeningly short-lived Joss Whedon show Firefly, go rent/stream it now). In 42, he plays the horribly racist Phillies manager Ben Chapman, and in one particular scene it’s actually hard to believe just how far he took his words, and you can actually get a vicious TASTE of the power of hateful words. It’s a scene that probably leaves most audiences stunned, and Alan Tudyk really nailed it. Here is a blurb that describes the authenticity of that historic scene.

Overall I really enjoyed watching this inspiring movie with Adi and Cindy, and I believe we all left with relatively similar thoughts: it was schmaltzy, but still quite good.

The movie was better than For Love Of The Game, a really forgettable Kevin Costner baseball flick, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to Field Of Dreams, a Costner baseball movie that is INCREDIBLY schmaltzy, and will make most grown men cry.

Quality Rating: A- (I would give it a B+, but the Tudyk scene was too good to brush off.)

Boaz Rating: A-

Review Rating: F (I failed at my task to actually write a SHORT review – better luck next time!)

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4 Responses to “42 (My First Attempt At A Short Review)”

  1. cindk March 31, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    No mention of the fact that I spent 99% of the movie crying bc of Brooklyn? I thought that’s your favorite part of seeing movies with me! Also if this is the last we movie we saw together — which may be true — we need to remedy that ASAP.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor April 1, 2014 at 1:10 am #

      It’s been almost as long as this since seeing a movie together, but NOT QUITE. We did also see one other hilarious movie last year – This Is The End, also unreviewed 🙂
      That being said, you should be on the list for next year I would hope, it only requires seeing three or more!
      And yes, your hilarious sentimentality for all things NY does crack me up my dear Cindy!

      Like

  2. Mum Hepner March 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    I had a marvelous “Miss Brodie” type English teacher in High School who decided to take me in hand and teach me ‘précis’. Out of a long passage, you produced a succinct one that gave the salient details and tried to include the tone. It was my hardest lesson (still is and someone has inherited it…enjoyably however…) but editing is a must and I have never regretted those lunch hours spent indoors learning her techniques. You can, you will!
    btw, if you haven’t watched The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, please do and write about it!

    Like

  3. boazconstrictor April 1, 2014 at 1:02 am #

    Thank you for your ironic praise. Ironic of course because I was anything but short with my “précis” 🙂

    Like

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