Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Blind Side

Directed by John Lee Hancock.
2009. Rated PG-13, 128 minutes.
Cast:
Sandra Bullock
Quinton Aaron
Tim McGraw
Jae Head
Lily Collins
Kathy Bates
Ray McKinnon
Tom Nowicki
Melody Weintraub
Sharon Morris


Plot: The Tuohy family, at the urging of fiery matriarch Leigh Ann (Bullock), take in Michael Oher (Aaron), a homeless and academically challenged boy who attends the same school as their children. Michael turns out to be a highly sought after football prospect. Based on a true story.

The Good: It bends the sports underdog genre on its ear by making the person who helps the underdog the protagonist. In this case, that person is Leigh Ann Tuohy, played brazenly by Sandra Bullock. It’s perhaps the best performance of her career. Accordingly, it earned her an Oscar for Best Actress. As a whole, the movie knows when to utilize its sense of humor and when to press our emotional buttons. That timely alternating keeps us locked in, fully vested in the Tuohy family mission.

The Bad: Alas, genre clich├ęs still abound. We think we know every obstacle before it approaches. Moments later, our suspicions are confirmed. This combines with the fact that the story it’s based on is of extremely recent vintage to sap the film of any real sense of mystery. The questions of race and budding sexuality are too neatly wrapped up within one scene. As far as race is concerned, it's content to be another film in which near-perfect white people save a damaged black kid from the ghetto. Both race and sexuality are quickly swept under the rug by a short speech in which Leigh Ann shouts down her naysayers. Perhaps more importantly, because we knew the racial dynamics going in, the question of just how Michael’s grades rose so quickly is never really addressed. This could be because of a scene in which Leigh Ann confronts one of Michael’s teachers and says “All the other teachers are on board. What’s your problem?” Hmmm, is there something else we need to know? The movie as a whole just seems too afraid to veer from the path to “happily ever after” to tackle the tough issues.

The Ugly: Now, that’s how you finish a block.

Recommendation: This is probably the best “feel-good” movie of 2009. Like a good football team, is has a game plan and executes it well. It never surprises us one bit, but that’s okay because it entertains us and engages us. If you’re prone to crying over movies, keep some tissue nearby.

The Opposite View: Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

What the Internet Says: 7.7/10 on imdb.com (5/26/10), 67% on rottentomatoes.com, 53/100 on metacritic.com


MY SCORE: 7/10

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