Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Apr 10, 2013
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 11, 2013
    Boseman is watchful, winning and confident, but never saintly. Yet he keeps Robinson’s moral spine aligned with his skill and self-respect, showing how he needed all of those to succeed.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Apr 12, 2013
    Spike Lee wanted for years to make a Jackie Robinson film, and I hope he still gets his chance. Another take, maybe angrier or more polemic, could be fascinating, and the heroism of Jackie Robinson was significant enough to justify more than a few movies.
  4. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 10, 2013
    One of the all-time great sports movies — primarily because it's one of the all-time great sports stories.
  5. Reviewed by: Gabe Toro
    Apr 10, 2013
    42 is excessively retro, neglecting the urge to pepper scenes with comic relief or oppressing, flashy conflict.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 170 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 61
  2. Negative: 3 out of 61
  1. Apr 14, 2013
    42. The biopic of Jackie Robinson. The story, while inspirational, seems like that was all it was. Now, this isn't necessarily the fault of the Director and Writer or anybody else involved with making this movie, but biopics are always set up to fail, whether it be the greatest biopic ever made, or the worst. They're all set to fail. But only the strong survive. This, however, wasn't strong. Ignoring the fact that throughout the entire duration of this movie, I felt like I was watching a TV movie, the story was a generic fallacy, which only covered a part of the legacy Jackie Robinson left behind. To get with the times, you must remember that back when Jackie Robinson was just starting with the, then Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, whites hated blacks. And if was a white sport, nobody wanted to do any business with blacks. Well, I get it. Those were the times, but it was the same ole generic response with the white folk is period movies like this, "I hate blacks!" or N****** ruin everything!" something of that tone. The tone of the movie felt bland and I wasn't emotionally invested into the movie as I should have. It was heavily corny at times, and wasn't as inspirational as the actual movie was. Disappointment was what I felt leaving that theater. Because a great, inspirational man's legacy was made a mockery of with this movie. Full Review »
  2. May 16, 2013
    The Bottom Line
    A too self-consciously inspiring rendition of Jackie Robinson's genuinely inspiring accomplishment of breaking baseball's
    color barrier.

    Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford provide engaging performances as Jackie Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in the Legendary/Warner Bros. drama about the man who broke MLB's color line. 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. Whether in the deep South or the streets of Brooklyn, life here looks spiffy and well-scrubbed enough to appear in a department store window, while the soaring musical accompaniment seems to be stamping all the protagonists' passports for immediate admission to that great ballpark in the sky. All the same, lead actors Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford cut through the artifice with engaging performances as Robinson and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, respectively, and audiences who don't know much about the first black man to play professional baseball will be suitably impressed. Hit-starved Warner Bros. should be able to stir moderately good attendance domestically, although foreign prospects, as always with baseball yarns, are slight. The key scene in 42, just as it was in the low-budget 1950 The Jackie Robinson Story, which starred the ballplayer himself, comes when Rickey, warning his prospect about the abuse that inevitably awaits him, demands to know if he's “got enough guts not to fight back” when provoked by other players or fans. Robinson was not the best player in the Negro Leagues, but he was reckoned to be the one who might best withstand the trial by fire posed by teammates who didn't want to play with him and a society that often wouldn't allow him to travel, eat or lodge with the rest of the team. Needing a manageable window through which to dramatize a sports breakthrough fraught with racial, social, political and attitudinal meaning, this pet project of writer-director Brian Helgeland and producer Thomas Tull zeroes in on the years 1945-47, concluding with Robinson's first year in the majors. Although there is quick mention of a sports career at UCLA (which, the film does not note, had the most integrated sports program of any school in the U.S. at the time) and a quick temper that earned him an Army court-martial, the 26-year-old member of the American Negro League Kansas City Monarchs seems like the picture of rectitude, a well-spoken young man with a lovely wife-to-be, Rachel (Nicole Beharie), and none of the wild traits of some of his teammates. As one of the last century's most inspiring and literally game-changing personal sagas, Jackie Robinson's life can hardly help but be stirring and will no doubt impress many younger viewers, some of whom may be completely unfamiliar with his story. It's just too bad that Helgeland can't go for broke and get his uniform as dirty as Jackie Robinson used to do.
    Full Review »
  3. BKM
    Oct 9, 2013
    It's extremely difficult to put Jackie Robinson's legacy into its proper perspective and for the most part 42 doesn't really try. Instead it is content to be a glossy, feel good sports story. If you can accept that, you'll find the film to be a genuinely entertaining and well acted biopic that tells an important story albeit in a less than urgent manner. Full Review »