One of my daughters got bit by the baseball bug back when she was in grammar school. We took her to Fenway, signed her up for softball, showed her “Field of Dreams” and “Pride of the Yankees.” She read all the baseball biographies she could get her hands on, those picture-heavy Scholastic books about the Babe and the Splendid Splinter and the Say Hey Kid. And Jackie Robinson, of course — a great baseball story, but a good, tough American tale as well.
“42,” the ambitious new biopic about Robinson, is better written and produced than those children’s books, but it isn’t any deeper, and that’s a disappointment. How severe a disappointment will depend on whether you like your inspirational legends served with all the trimmings — swelling soundtrack music, men rounding third in slow-motion, little boys looking on in awe — or prefer your heroes life-size, the better to honestly depict their triumphs.