I’m not the biggest fan of baseball and I’m pretty sure I still don’t understand the sport, however I understand movies and that allowed me to appreciate this film. From the fancy set pieces to the “colorful” language, it really did a good job capturing what it was like for Jackie Robinson to step up to home plate and swing a bat. Or at least capturing what Hollywood wants us to think Jackie Robinson felt like.
At first this felt like one of those Disney “sports make me feel awesome” movies that tend to highlight actual events. I haven’t seen all of them but, if I recall seeing “Miracle” in theaters scored me some extra credit for my junior year history class. Anyway this turned out to be a pretty solid movie for someone like me as it didn’t really focus on statistics of a player, but rather the hardships Jackie Robinson had to go through in order to play ball. That, and my idea that it was Disney related was quickly dashed when the “N” word was dropped more than a Lil’ Jon rap song.
To be honest I thought that Harrison Ford’s role was excellent, especially for him. When you think about it, you’ve probably seen six to seven movies that he’s been in (for the average viewer), and chances are those are the three* Indiana Jones movies and the Star Wars trilogy. So when all of a sudden he shows up on screen as an overweight, extremely religious, baseball loving cigar smoker, it was a welcome change. The trailer for the film didn’t show him in it a whole lot, and why would it when it’s about an African American baseball player trying to make it with the all-white Brooklyn Dodgers? So I was even more pleasantly surprised when Ford had a rather decent role throughout the film, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got some kind of “award” nod for his performance.
This takes me to Chadwick Boseman, who until I looked him up on IMDB I thought was a newcomer to the acting scene. Apparently he’s bounced around in some TV shows starting around 2003 and this was his first lead role, which I’d say he excelled at. Again, I’m not that huge into sports movies (unless they’re any of the “Mighty Ducks” films) but Boseman’s portrayal of Robinson (and his likeness, wow) was probably spot on. Obviously I wasn’t around in late 40’s and 50’s to watch him steal bases like they were going out of print, but hey, he did a great job portraying someone who did. Alan Tudyk even had a surprise cameo as Ben Chapman, the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, who slings slurs left and right. I love me some Tudyk so it was sad to watch that moment of the film happen but that’s what makes an actor great; their ability to inhabit the skin of another human being, regardless of how evil they may be.
Hard to believe this guy used to outrun boulders.
Normally I’d say “spoilers ahead” but this is a feel good sports flick, so it’s pretty obvious how it’s going to end. Though it would be pretty funny to have a film be all happy-go-lucky for 85% and then have the ending just be out of the blue, like an alien invasion, or the main character goes crazy and kills a guy. Just saying, could make for a more interesting review.
DIRECTOR’S CUT: A solid baseball movie that’s more than a baseball movie, though I think that message got lost in a lot of the advertising.
FLICKCHART RATING: 367/2031
*I know what I said.