Writer-director Brian Helgeland has had a mixed career (writing "L.A. Confidential," "A Knight's Tale," "The Postman" and "Mystic River," and winning both an Oscar and a Razzie award in 1998 for Best Screenplay for "L.A. Confidential" and Worst Screenplay for "The Postman." His best-known directorial outing previously was Mel Gibson's "Payback" in 1999; with "42," however, he has finally hit his stride. The film, a dramatization of the monumental events that surrounded the breaking of Major League Baseball's color barrier by Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey and baseball great Jackie Robinson, is an almost perfect stylistic outing. In 1946, Rickey (Harrison Ford, here submerging himself into his role with an Oscar-worthy performance) put himself at the forefront of history when he signed Negro Leagues ballplayer Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team, putting both Robinson and Rickey in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing unabashed racism from every side, Robinson was forced to demonstrate tremendous courage and restraint, knowing that any incident could destroy his and Rickey's hopes to desegregate the game. Rickey's decision was based on a combination of idealism and astute business sense: it made sense to hire the best ball players to win games and make money for the team, and the best players could be black or white (or later, Afro-Hispanic, such as Roberto Clemente). The story follows Rickey's decision in 1945 to hire a black player, through the drafting of Robinson in '46 for the Dodger's farm team, and then his appearance on the Dodgers in '47, which lead to a National League pennant win. "42," which was Robinson's number (and the only number retired by all MLB teams), is the story of a changing sport and a changing world. It's an almost perfect film; the scenario, the dialogue, the editing, the framing — everything is pitch perfect. There's never a dull inning, never a seventh-inning stretch. Yes, it's predictable (first off, we know how it's going to end; second off, we know that Jackie will stand up to the taunts as to his color by turning the other cheek); yes, some of the characters are stereotypical and archetypical, but heck, who cares. It's fun and absorbing and, for a generation born way, way past the breaking of segregation in sports (or elsewhere, for that matter), it's educational. It's a textbook example of how to make a movie, one that can be studied in any film school. And one that made a lot of money. Vitals: Director: Brian Helgeland. Stars: Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Andre Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min., Drama, Box office gross: $91.513 million, Warner.