A look at the least important things in life

Movie Trailer Tuesday: 42

Due Out: April 12

Jesus Christ, the first quarter of 2013 has been horrible for movies, hasn’t it? And that’s before we even get to Fast and Furious 6, Kick-Ass 2, and Grown-Ups 2 (all things that are going to happen this year, in the event you’d been contemplating forswearing movies now and forever).

Anyway, all is not bleak at the multiplex. Thanks to writer/director Brian Helgeland, the life of baseball color barrier-breaker Jackie Robinson will come to the big screen in April in 42. And as the years pass and the perceived importance of Robinson signaling the beginning of the end of baseball’s racial intolerance wanes, it’s probably more important than ever to tell his story.

Between the abolition of slavery and the passing of the Civil Rights Acts in the 1960s, there was a period of roughly 80 years where black people were free, but not really. Jim Crow Laws and ‘separate but equal’ and loads of other horseshit that was designed to make white people feel better about discrimination was still in place, and there weren’t many people of power and influence that cared enough to change the rules. Branch Rickey (played in this movie by Harrison Ford, who finally seems interested in playing parts designed for a 70-year old man) took the reins both because it was the right thing to do but also because the Negro Leagues – where Robinson and all other early black stars were forced to play – were full of talent and whoever jumped first would get the best price on said players.

(It’s my hope you took more away from that paragraph than just ‘Han Solo/Indiana Jones is 70 years old’, although that part is also important.)

Anyway, the story of Rickey’s quest for the player that could break the color barrier will be told here, with Chadwick Boseman charged with bringing Robinson to life. Not only is this movie following the Lincoln model of ‘taking a historically important moment and wringing all the emotion out of it’, it’s coming at a time when sports is facing another situation where doing the right thing needs to be embraced.

I’m talking about the issue of an openly gay man in pro sports – one of the big sports, football or basketball or baseball. It’s become an issue that shouldn’t matter but does and it will probably take a Branch Rickey and a Jackie Robinson, men of strength and courage who would rather win than continue the caveman-esque ‘No fags allowed’ policy to break it. There will always be people that think a locker room is a sacred blah blah blah, but since we’ve already had guys come out after their careers have finished, we know that gay people reside in locker rooms now. There are still racists in locker rooms too, and those should have disappeared years ago.

Keep An Eye On: John C. McGinley aka Dr. Cox aka the Greatest Actor of Our Time as Red Barber. I’m in. Oh, and Christopher Meloni as noted curmudgeon Leo Durocher.

Burning Question: It’s got to be hard for people, even actors, to be racist on command. How do you practice that?

Reminds Me Of: As mentioned earlier, Lincoln.

Theatre, Redbox or skip it: See it how you see it. A think piece like this may be more fun not in theatres. But make sure you see it. Seems kind of important.


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