42 overview

April 22, 2013

The critics seem to fall into two main camps: movie critics with no special knowledge about baseball, who based their comments solely on the production values and storytelling and those baseball nerds with lots of knowledge about the topic who were mostly interested in the attention to detail, some to a most picayune level.

Let’s start with the former. Give a bad review to the story of a great American hero is like booing Santa Clause. It can’t be done in good conscience. So you have a number of reviews who will find something — anything — nice to say. The clothing was very cool, for example. The actors were well-meaning and earnest in their performances, even if some were seen as a bit stiff or cartoonish.

On the other hand (and I will offer my own review in the next post), there were a number of elements that were almost distracting (and that doesn’t include those aforementioned historical inaccuracies).  The music, which at times was so intent on telegraphing what was coming that the movie should have given product placement to Western Union (kids, ask your parents). The CGI of the ballparks reminded me of the overdone scenes in movies like 300, the colors too rich and saturated, to the point of distraction. Some of the dialogue, especially for the two kid actors — one black, one white — were equally ridiculous (the white kid asks his dad how many runs Pee Wee Reese will score in that day’s game between the Dodgers and Reds; the black kid, who reminds his over-protective mother that he’s 10 years old, explains the balk rule to her with language that is at once those of a child prodigy and insultingly condescending.

As for those baseball historians, they ignore the disclaimer at the beginning of the film which clearly states that it is based on a true story. That’s an important distinction. So when certain events transpire that did not actually happen, or did happen but with different agents of action (a quote attributed to player A when it was actually player B who said it), well, I think these nitpickers are just showing off.

What both the film critics and baseball  critics fail to realize is that the general audience does not care about these details. They are coming to see the (generally true) story of one of the — if not the — most influential people in the civil rights movement. So it comes as no surprise when the closing credits roll to the sound of applause.

Herewith is my last list of links to 42, running the gamut of the initial opinions to the detail-oriented discrepancies. Enjoy.

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