Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
42 Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Inspiring Jackie Robinson biopic has great messages.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 128 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 67 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In addition to its strong pro-equality/anti-racism messages, 42 promotes the idea that it's worth being considered an outcast to stand up for something important. Both Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey have to face a lot of persecution, but by staying steadfast in their goal, they rise above the negativity and threats to persevere.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jackie Robinson, as portrayed in 42, was exceptionally restrained when up against the racism he constantly faced. He didn't engage those who ridiculed him, and he never instigated any conflicts. Branch Rickey was a remarkable man of faith and wisdom who knew he was breaking the "color line" and wanted to integrate baseball. Rickey calls people out on their racism and makes the other players see why whatever inconveniences they faced pale in comparison to the abuse and the threats Jackie faces. Dodgers Pee Wee Reese, Ralph Branca, and Eddie Stanky come around to be supportive of Robinson, and at least some of the characters who exhibit racism are punished/penalized.


The Dodgers nearly come to blows with the Pirates when the Pirates' pitcher hits Robinson in the head. This happens another time as well. Robinson and one of his own teammates nearly go fist to fist as well but are stopped by their fellow players. A Florida man makes it clear that there are a group of men on their way to cause "trouble" if Robinson doesn't leave town. After his encounter with the racist Phillies manager, Robinson gets so upset that he privately breaks his bat. An opposing player spikes him in the calf at first base.


Several marital kisses -- a few more passionate than others -- and scenes of Robinson and his wife in their bedroom (sometimes she's in her chemise, but the camera shows her from the waist up) talking and sometimes embracing. The only risque scene is when a man is shown in bed with a woman (he's shirtless, and she's in a nightie) who's saying innuendo-laced things to him while he's on the phone. It's later revealed that they're having an adulterous affair.


Both the "N" word and "boy" are used several times, particularly in a game against the Phillies, in which an overtly racist team manager incessantly ridicules Robinson and calls him everything those epithets to "coon," "monkey," and many others. But the "N" word isn't used gratuitously, and its use is appropriate considering the movie's context. Usually when referring to African Americans, the word used is "Negroes" (historically accurate). Also a couple of uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "hell," "son of a bitch," "damn," "goddamn," and "ass."


Historically accurate shots of a Dodge car and a Budweiser ad and a few other fleeting ads in the baseball parks.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults are shown drinking in a couple of scenes. Also some smoking, particularly cigars (accurate for the era).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 42 is an inspiring biopic about the two years in which baseball legend Jackie Robinson broke the sport's color barrier. It's not a complete biography -- just a snapshot of the 1946 and 1947 seasons. Expect many uses of the "N" word; but considering the institutional racism of the 1940s, the word is important to convey the times. Other racial slurs include "boy," "monkey," and "coon"; other language includes occasional use of words like "s--t" and "a--hole." There are a few near fistfights between the Dodgers and opposing players, and at one point a fellow Dodger pushes Robinson; a fight almost ensues. Despite the difficult language and serious themes, the movie offers important historical and ethical lessons for younger viewers and sports fans.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymfisher0521 May 3, 2016

Inspiring and Uplifting

42! Probably one of the best sports drama films I have ever seen! So many good messages and motives were portrayed throughout the film. It is a very powerful st... Continue reading
Adult Written bygomesy February 26, 2021

Too much use of the "n" word...

I showed this to my grade 6 class and did not expect the "n" word to be used often in this film. I would not recommend showing it to any young childre... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 21, 2014

Accurate movie makes it a must-see for baseball fans.

There is some drinking and smoking, the sexual content is only kissing, there is not much violence and the language is a bit strong including curse words and ra... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDiaAcm36 September 21, 2020

At least make sure you are ready for slurs

This movie is amazing! I highly recommend watching it. Please do know that this movie uses the n-word a lot as it was how things were handled back then. Perserv... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 42, in the aftermath of World War II, Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decides the time is right to recruit the first black baseball player into Major League Baseball. After going through the stats on various noteworthy Negro League players, Rickey targets Jack "Jackie" Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), a 26-year-old player for the Kansas City Monarchs. Rickey offers Robinson a spot on the Dodgers' minor league team the Montreal Royals, and then in 1947 officially gives him a place at bat with the Brooklyn Dodgers. With the support of his devoted wife, Rachel (Nicole Beharie), Robinson faces the racism of everyone from fellow players to umpires to opposing teams -- not to mention baseball fans. But as he proves he's got what it takes to steal bases, hit homers, and score runs, teammates and fans have a change of heart.

Is it any good?

This isn't a perfect film, but it's entertaining and inspiring -- and, by most accounts, historically accurate. Director Brian Helgeland definitely pulls a bit too hard at the heartstrings with slow-motion shots of little children and audiences watching Robinson play. As a result, 42 frequently teeters on the brink of being overly sentimental. Boseman gives a fine, subtle performance as an amazing athlete, a loving husband and father, and a man who knows how to restrain himself, responding to racists and critics on the field, not with his fists.

Ford's performance is over the top, but he believably portrays what drove Rickey's desire to integrate baseball: his business savvy (a black player meant more black fans) and his Christian principles (he's a Methodist who often compares Robinson's trials to those of Jesus). Ultimately, the biopic is about both men, not just Robinson, and the movie covers only those first two baseball seasons in Robinson's MLB career. Crowd pleasing and uncomplicated, 42 isn't likely to win Oscars, but it's a great pick for families with mature tweens and teens -- whether they love baseball or not.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about 42's themes and messages. Why are Jackie Robinson's accomplishments so significant? Can you think of other athletes/public figures who've faced similar challenges?

  • How have sports changed since the 1940s? Are some of the issues raised in the film still present?

  • Talk about the difference between a biographical film that covers an entire life and those that concentrate on one time period of a historical figure's life. Which do you prefer? Why?

  • Why are many sports movies so compelling? What are some good examples of inspiring sports movies?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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