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42 Review Critics


Dave White Profile

A league of his own Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    What's been carefully filtered out of the film as a whole is the tumult and passion of Robinson's life.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    Pretty when it should be gritty and grandiosely noble instead of just telling it like it was, 42 needlessly trumps up but still can't entirely spoil one of the great American 20th century true-life stories, the breaking of major league baseball's color line by Jackie Robinson.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It takes a particularly ham-fisted filmmaker to transform a fascinating and historically significant story into something as formulaic as 42.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times

    42 is competent, occasionally rousing and historically respectful — but it rarely rises above standard, old-fashioned biography fare. It’s a mostly unexceptional film about an exceptional man.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Helgeland works in what I think of as a conservative — or maybe it's just really, really basic — neoclassical Hollywood style, spelling everything out, letting the story unfold in a plainspoken and deliberate fashion, with a big, wide, open pictorial camera eye. It's like the latter-day Clint Eastwood style, applied to material that's as traditional as can be.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 11+

Inspiring Jackie Robinson biopic has great messages.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 42 is an inspiring biopic about the two years in which baseball legend Jackie Robinson broke the sport's color barrier. It's not a complete biography -- just a snapshot of the 1946 and 1947 seasons. Expect many uses of the "N" word; but considering the institutional racism of the 1940s, the word is important to convey the times. Other racial slurs include "boy," "monkey," and "coon"; other language includes occasional use of words like "s--t" and "a--hole." There are a few near fistfights between the Dodgers and opposing players, and at one point a fellow Dodger pushes Robinson; a fight almost ensues. Despite the difficult language and serious themes, the movie offers important historical and ethical lessons for younger viewers and sports fans.

  • Families can talk about 42's themes and messages. Why are Jackie Robinson's accomplishments so significant? Can you think of other athletes/public figures who've faced similar challenges?

  • How have sports changed since the 1940s? Are some of the issues raised in the film still present?

  • Talk about the difference between a biographical film that covers an entire life and those that concentrate on one time period of a historical figure's life. Which do you prefer? Why?

  • Why are many sports movies so compelling? What are some good examples of inspiring sports movies?

The good stuff
  • message true5

    Messages: In addition to its strong pro-equality/anti-racism messages, 42 promotes the idea that it's worth being considered an outcast to stand up for something important. Both Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey have to face a lot of persecution, but by staying steadfast in their goal, they rise above the negativity and threats to persevere.

  • rolemodels true5

    Role models: Jackie Robinson, as portrayed in 42, was exceptionally restrained when up against the racism he constantly faced. He didn't engage those who ridiculed him, and he never instigated any conflicts. Branch Rickey was a remarkable man of faith and wisdom who knew he was breaking the "color line" and wanted to integrate baseball. Rickey calls people out on their racism and makes the other players see why whatever inconveniences they faced pale in comparison to the abuse and the threats Jackie faces. Dodgers Pee Wee Reese, Ralph Branca, and Eddie Stanky come around to be supportive of Robinson, and at least some of the characters who exhibit racism are punished/penalized.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: The Dodgers nearly come to blows with the Pirates when the Pirates' pitcher hits Robinson in the head. This happens another time as well. Robinson and one of his own teammates nearly go fist to fist as well but are stopped by their fellow players. A Florida man makes it clear that there are a group of men on their way to cause "trouble" if Robinson doesn't leave town. After his encounter with the racist Phillies manager, Robinson gets so upset that he privately breaks his bat. An opposing player spikes him in the calf at first base.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Several marital kisses -- a few more passionate than others -- and scenes of Robinson and his wife in their bedroom (sometimes she's in her chemise, but the camera shows her from the waist up) talking and sometimes embracing. The only risque scene is when a man is shown in bed with a woman (he's shirtless, and she's in a nightie) who's saying innuendo-laced things to him while he's on the phone. It's later revealed that they're having an adulterous affair.

  • language false3

    Language: Both the "N" word and "boy" are used several times, particularly in a game against the Phillies, in which an overtly racist team manager incessantly ridicules Robinson and calls him everything those epithets to "coon," "monkey," and many others. But the "N" word isn't used gratuitously, and its use is appropriate considering the movie's context. Usually when referring to African Americans, the word used is "Negroes" (historically accurate). Also a couple of uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "hell," "son of a bitch," "damn," "goddamn," and "ass."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Historically accurate shots of a Dodge car and a Budweiser ad and a few other fleeting ads in the baseball parks.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults are shown drinking in a couple of scenes. Also some smoking, particularly cigars (accurate for the era).