Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Blind Side

"The Blind Side" exceeded my expectations, but only slightly. I was going into the film thinking it was going to turn out disastrous (with some hope), based on what I'd heard, but it managed to be a mild entertainment. That said, it's definitely not one of those films that comes onto you (read: "Fish Tank"), and, as people said, it follows a formula down to the last scene, in both its visual style and plotting. But it manages.

Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, who would be described in such adjectives as "feisty" and "stubborn." She's a charitable person, apparently, and she does "the next in her line of charities" when she meets Michael "Big Mike" Oher (Quinton Aaron, subtly). She lets him stay in her McMansion (straight from the Taco Bell fortune of her husband, Tim McGraw), since he's basically wandering around otherwise, without any winter clothes or anything. It's not too much later when he becomes "a part of their family."

Michael's friend lobbies for him to get into the "Christian school" where the Tuohys send their kids. The problem is, though, that Mike is so apparently scared of all the white people that he can't write anything. (This is later solved by just having him take every test orally.) He has to raise his GPA so he can actually play a sport, which, obviously, is football. He's going to play for Coach Burt, who is played by Ray McKinnon in a remarkable transformation from "That Evening Sun." Leigh Anne is really involved in this, too, and when she gives Michael some advice, she basically lets loose his total beastness at left tackle.

Okay. I enjoyed parts of this despite it being not terribly well-written. The problem I have to mention is the whole racism debacle. Everyone in the film who is a racist is a stereotype and a cardboard cutout, dismissed as a "redneck." The only football game in the film is to illustrate how racist other team's fans are. Also employed is one of those "Julie and Julia" lunch scenes where the main character is somehow alienated from the rest, with an added bonus of everyone being racist! John Lee Hancock (the director) is very (as people like I believe the Playlist said) "heavy-handed" when it comes to this, and he plays it up whenever he can. WHENEVER. It seems to be something no one can avoid: as Doris Bell put it (with "a town's football madness"), "Friday Night Lights," while being probably a little better, was similarly "topical." But still, I expect a little more out of a Best Picture nominee.

Let's talk about this last thing. To repeat an oft-used argument: in a year of "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Julia," the Academy takes the easy way out by awarding (as my friend) the movies that made the most money. This is the type of film that's usually dismissed. It's not horrible, but to put it on par with "The Hurt Locker" simply isn't fair. It's the whole Bullock craze combined with people being too easily "emotionally manipulated." She doesn't deserve it this time. It's at best decent. She regularly spouts those kind of lines as "You threaten my son, you threaten me." She's up against Helen Mirren and Gabby Sidibe, so I'm not giving her my support. Perhaps she's in the movie longer than Mirren is in her's, and thus she has more time to carve out a presence. But then again, isn't the only reason anyone watched this movie because of the "true story" behind it? In some ways, I think it may be character over actor here.

"The Blind Side" itself is somewhat of a mediocre film. You don't see cameos by NCAA football coaches everyday, but you can't say that about most of this stuff. I wasn't a huge fan of the overused way of doing flashbacks (I guess it was one of the only options, but anyone who's seen "Ghost Dog" knows that someone jacked the playbook). Also, the "user-friendly" appeal that I know (and heard) was aimed for with "Invictus" I wasn't totally at ease with. And those "gangster" scenes? I dunno. All-in-all, "The Blind Side" is a mildly formidable film, not a Best Picture. C+

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

I was quite impressed by the trailer of this film.

Sandra Bullock got a big write-up in our tabloid newspaper.

I think I would rather see My Name is Khan, even though I did quite like the trailer.

The things I liked were the family setting and how different things were for Mike out on the street.