'42' A Home Run With Critics, Despite A Pretty Big Historical Error

Dusten Carlson

That movie 42, the Jackie Robinson biopic you've been curious about? Go see it. All the critics agree.

The film tells the story of Jackie Robinson (portrayed by Chadwick Boseman), a Negro League baseball player, and his recruitment into the all-white Major Leagues by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (portrayed by Harrison Ford).

On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film 42 boasts a 74 percent approval rating from professional critics and an 82 percent audience approval.

"42 is an earnest, inspirational, and respectfully told biography of an influential American sports icon, though it might be a little too safe and old-fashioned for some," the critical summary reads.

The best reviews of 42 come from those within the Major League Baseball industry, which Robinson integrated nearly 70 years ago in 1947. Clubs, players and MLB personnel were treated to advanced screenings of the film, and returned rave reviews.

"I've often said that baseball's proudest moment and its most powerful social statement came when Jackie Robinson first set foot on a Major League Baseball field," said Commissioner Bud Selig, who continued, "42 captures that event brilliantly."

Despite the film's glowing reception, some critics have pointed out a pretty glaring historical error in the film's narrative. Eric Metaxas of Religion News Service points out that the film largely ignores the "devout Christian faith" of both Rickey and Robinson.

"Rickey himself was a 'Bible-thumping Methodist' who refused to attend games on Sunday," writes Metaxas in his review.

"He sincerely believed it was God's will that he integrate baseball and saw it as an opportunity to intervene in the moral history of the nation, as Lincoln had done. And Rickey chose Robinson because of the young man's faith and moral character."

John Mulderig of the Catholic News Service observed that 42 gave nods to the faith of both figures with lines like "he's a Methodist, I'm a Methodist, God's a Methodist … " but Metaxas, while lauding the film overall, argued that faith should have played a larger role, as it did in both men's lives.

Metaxas still recommends 42, merely opining that its exclusion of Robinson and Rickey's shared faith constitutes "a mysterious hole at the center of this otherwise worthy film."

Did you see 42 yet? What did you think?

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