'42' Is Safe, Sadly
Jonathan Eig, author of “Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season,” was nice enough to read my review of “42” and tweet the following:
@eriklundegaard You nailed it. Couldn't have said it better myself. I'll probably write a short column next day or two. But this is perfect.— Jonathan Eig (@jonathaneig) April 14, 2013
The short column is his “Nine-inning Review of '42'” for Chicago Sports Side. He liked the movie more than I did, left the theater happier than I did, but we're not far off. I agree in particular with his 8th and 9th points:
8. “42” tries too hard to please. It wants the endorsement of the Robinson family, Major League Baseball, historians, and fans young and old. It wants to educate and entertain. It wants black fans to feel pride and white fans to appreciate how far we’ve come. It succeeds in almost every one of those ways. It makes for a good movie, but not a great one. “42” plays it safe, something Jackie Robinson never did. Robinson was a complicated man, full of fear and fury. I wish more of his complexity made it to the screen.
9. I left the theater smiling. I enjoyed the movie, and so did my kids. But I found myself wondering how it would have turned out if Spike Lee had directed. He might not have done better, but I don’t think he would have played it safe.
Safe. The right kind.