The new biopic “42” debuted last weekend to good reviews and great box office taking in over $27 million. The film tells the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball. He broke the color barrier in 1947 because of Brooklyn Dodgers exec Branch Rickey.
“42” marks a comeback for writer/director Brian Hegleland who won an Oscar in 1997 for his adapted screenplay of “L.A. Confidential.” Although he has scripted films like “Salt” and “Robin Hood” since then, he hasn’t helmed a feature since “The Orders” in 2003.
He cast newcomer Chadwick Boseman to play Robinson and recruited Harrison Ford to take on his first real-life role as the visionary Rickey. Ford’s reward for his efforts are some of the best reviews of his lengthy career. As Owen Glieberman (Entertainment Weekly) writes, “As Rickey, a stogie-chomping grump with a heart of gold, Harrison Ford seems to have reinvented himself as an actor. He gives an ingeniously stylized cartoon performance, his eyes atwinkle, his mouth a rubbery grin, his voice all wily Southern music, though with that growl of Fordian anger just beneath it.
Surprisingly, Ford has only been nominated for the Academy Award once. He lost that 1985 Best Actor bid to William Hurt (“Kiss of the Spider-Woman”). In the lively forum discussion of the film, poster OntheGo points out, “This is exactly what Ford needed to in order to have a chance to be remembered at the end of the year.”
The release date of the film was timed to coincide with the start of baseball rather than awards season. However, as forum poster ScottFerguson notes, “when veterans win (Sean Connery and Alan Arkin to name two), their films often are from earlier in the year.”
While the film earned a solid 76 at Rotten Tomatoes, it was rated an A+ by moviegoers according to CinemaScore. That company says only 29 films have made that grade since it started polling audiences in 1999.
Among the other top scorers were Best Picture champs “Argo” (2012) and “The King’s Speech” (2010) as well as 2009 nominee “The Blind Side.” That film also featured a sports backdrop and won Sandra Bullock the Best Actress Oscar for playing a real-life mentor to an African American football player.
Will “42” replicate the success of this boffo box office hit at the Academy Awards. Vote in our poll below.