Tag Archives: biopic

42 (film)

42 is a 2013 biopic about Jackie Robinson. It was written and directed by Brian Helgeland, and it stars Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. The film focuses primarily on Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The film starts with Branch Rickey, the President and GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers, making the bold decision to bring a black player to the major leagues. He only has to find the right one, someone with talent, skill, and the ability to take abuse without fighting back. He finds what he’s looking for in a young player named Jackie Robinson.

Jackie must endure racism and prejudice from his own teammates, other teams, managers, fans, and the media on his path to breaking the color barrier. He experiences things what would make anybody break but he handles it all with grace and class, keeping his mouth shut and letting his bat do the talking. And all the way he inspires people. He changes people. He changes the world. And he does it playing baseball.

Chadwick Boseman does a serviceable job playing the legendary Jackie Robinson. He doesn’t stand out but he doesn’t take anything away. I couldn’t name an actor that could do it better off the top of my head, but nothing about his portrayal really grips you. Harrison Ford is a scene-stealer as always. He growls and chews his way through his lines. Alan Tudyk’s brief appearance as Ben Chapman, the racist manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, also deserves recognition.


           42 is not a perfect film. It’s not a hundred percent accurate and they take some liberties in telling the story. That’s to be expected. It’s a Hollywood biopic, not a documentary. Jackie disappears during a few parts of the movie and it becomes The Branch Rickey Story far too often. Yeah, Branch Rickey played a huge part in racial integration but I wanted to see a movie about Jackie Robinson, not another flick about a rich white guy. There’s also an unnecessary scene involving homoerotic showering that left me scratching my head. Jackie’s teammate seems way too interested in seeing Jackie naked. Like way too interested. I also wish that they showed more things from Jackie’s career like other black players entering the game and when he was finally tenured enough to be able to fight back.

It’s still a good movie. I would recommend it. The good outweighs the bad and it’s important to recognize and honor Jackie Robinson. The movie depicts him in a positive light and you’ll respect him more after you watch it. But this film only gives you a glimpse of his life and he did a lot of great things that aren’t included in the two-hour running time. I want more. I demand a sequel.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a Judd Apatow comedy about a fictional singer named Dewey Cox. John C. Reilly plays Dewey Cox, a gifted but dimwitted musician trying to create his masterpiece, a song that sums up everything he’s learned about life. It’s pretty much a direct parody of Walk the Line, but it also spoofs biopics in general.

Walk Hard begins with little Dewey Cox accidently cutting his brother in half, and his father spends the next few years reminding him that “the wrong kid died.” This childhood trauma propels Dewey’s desire to prove that he’s worth something and win his father’s approval. He’s a natural at the guitar and soon begins his rise to the top. The film follows Dewey’s life as a rockstar: meeting women, having kids, doing drugs, going to rehab, changing his sound to reflect the current decade, all that fun stuff.

The humor is not for everyone. I know people who can’t make it five minutes into the film without turning it off. Personally, I think it’s one of the funniest movies of the last ten years. There are a lot of absurd moments and intentionally horrible casting, but John C. Reilly is able to make Dewey seem like a real person. His lyrics might be stupid, but to him they’re sincere and more importantly they are consistent to his character. He’s a poet who uses terrible metaphors and believes in what he thinks he knows. And John C. Reilly actually sang all his songs.

There’s a great supporting cast and tons of cameos: Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, David Schwartzman, Frankie Muniz, Jack White, Eddie Vedder, the Temptations… the list goes on and on. I like this movie a lot. I still quote this movie more than I should. And I also bought the soundtrack. The iTunes exclusive extended edition in fact. I don’t regret it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Man on the Moon

Milos Forman directs Jim Carrey in this biopic about the zany Andy Kaufman. Andy Kaufman wasn’t a comedian, he was a performance artist. He didn’t tell jokes; he had characters and tricks and would try to get real reactions from his audience. Is he entertaining the audience or himself?

When people defend Jim Carrey’s acting ability they usually name Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and/or the Truman Show. The fact is that there are a dozen actors that could have played the lead in those movies. John Cusack would’ve killed as Truman. Johnny Depp could have been Eternally Sunshining. The Majestic sucks; we don’t talk about that travesty. Man on the Moon works just because of Jim Carrey. Only Carrey has the ability to transform into the enigmatic Andy Kaufman. You forget that you are watching Jim Carrey. There are times in Truman or Eternal Sunshine where he kind of flails about and you remember that you’re watching Jim Carrey and not a movie. Jim Carrey is Andy Kaufman, you forget about Jim Carrey entirely.

Most biopics are about a very famous person, but Jim Carrey is more of a celebrity than Kaufman ever was. I was born in 1985, there’s no way I ever would have heard of Andy Kaufman if it weren’t for Jim Carrey reintroducing him to the world. Without Carrey, Kaufman might have been forgotten by my generation and the ones that follow.

The cast was great. Danny DeVito and Paul Giammatti play great supporting roles. Even Courtney Love turns in a good performance as the love interest. You can almost forgive her for killing Kurt. Almost. There are lots of cameos from celebrities in Kaufman’s life. David Letterman, Lorne Michaels, the cast of Taxi, and a bunch of other celebrities show up as themselves.

The whole movie is summed up in one simple scene. Andy is sick and dying and seeks out a psychic surgeon. He realizes that it’s just a scam artist pulling a fast one and laughs at the irony.

Kaufman was larger than life, a true original. He deceived the audience and loved messing with them. It didn’t matter if they loved him or hated him, as long as their emotions were real. Real responses and reactions make real art. The film covers a lot of Andy’s great moments, from his early standup, to his SNL appearances, to his antics as Tony Clifton, and to his final triumphant show at Carnegie Hall. When you finish watching it, you want to go online and find more of his bits and material. You want to learn more about Andy Kaufman, and that’s the sign of a successful biopic.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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