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May 20, 2010

Seriously Overdue Movie Review: The Blind Side

Somewhere along the way last winter, either the vast hordes of people that saw The Blind Side or the scads of early critics that anointed it worthy of being seen by the aforementioned scads of people that saw it (my research-free assumption on this point: Gene Shalit types) looked at this movie and judged it for what they thought it was, or what it appeared to be and not for what it really was. Somewhere along the way, people saw Sandra Bullock "in a role like you've never seen her before," (which is to say, the role of Erin Brockovich or her ilk) and became convinced that this was a feel-good movie about love conquering all and helping out your fellow man (-child) or being color-blind or class-blind or some combination of all of the above.

I have a hard time blaming them for seeing The Blind Side in this light, as it was certainly put on this way. As I comically alluded to a couple weeks ago, one wouldn't have been crazy to deem it Houseguest 2, either. All the traits of a light farce were there: stunt casting in the way of a country music star and a gang of real-life college football coaches appearing on screen just long enough to pitch their programs in 15 seconds or less, a precocious (read: annoying) child wise beyond his years, and a general air that seemed to say "there are no consequences to be found here whatsoever - don't think about this too deeply, because we sure didn't, either."

The thing is, though, The Blind Side purports to be a true story (or at least inspired or whatever euphemism they used for "making it up as they went along" this time around). And that true story is a two-ton heavy one with cultural touchstones that have the ability to set people off from all sides. It's based on the detailed writings of a book written not very long ago about events that took place sometime within the framework of everyone's memory. In other words, this ain't about the Civil War, and you can't get away with a load of bullshit and figure that you won't have to worry about it because everyone involved has been dead for a century.

And yet, it takes little more than a handful of orange and yellow Nerf darts to blow all kinds of holes in the story presented, and it's not like those gaps or additions have been replaced by anything substantial. The minorest of minor lip service is given to Michael Oher's background, race, place in the Tuohy household, etc. Things that could and/or would (especially in the South) be major, major obstacles to that happy ending are but mere blips on the radar, no more troubling to the family than a headache might be to you. The husband and wife don't discuss potentially adopting a strange teenage boy - it's just glossed over with a glib one-liner that plays to the "what she wants, she gets" stereotype by the comic-relief husband (who's supposed to be a multi-millionaire businessman at this point). Haha - how cute those two when discussing such immaterial matters!

Of course, the larger issue with the film as it's set up is that there's no tension whatsoever; NFL fans will already know the outcome - that Oher not got his scholarship to Ole Miss but was a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens - while those unaware won't have to worry about Oher's future anyway. After all, he was the adopted son of an upper-class family; why were any of them all that worried about a football scholarship anyway? NFL or no, I don't imagine that poverty was in his future at that point regardless. So, the filmmakers must have decided "Hey, we have a film with no drama, so we might as well make it folksy and charming!"

What lost potential.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"You seem a decent fellow...I hate to kill you."
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

8 people have chosen wisely: on "Seriously Overdue Movie Review: The Blind Side"

Daniel Getahun said...

I think you meant to give this a "Whatever" rating, but...whatever. ;-P

You really hit on all of the weaknesses I saw with it in a much simpler way. The adoption process, Oher's academic progress, the family's reputation - all of it was just skimmed over. This would be fine if the film were a comedy, but...did people consider this a comedy? No, they talked about it as if it holds relevancy and realistic drama when there was none of that in sight until the closing credits, when we saw "real" people for the first time.

Treating The Blind Side as some kind of meaningful film about the South and/or race relations and/or poverty in America is like treating Armageddon as a meaningful film about space exploration and astrophysics.

Nick said...

Still haven't seen this...

But hey, for once, I've done a movie review type of thing before you! I started something a little while back called "Better Late Than Never" that is movie reviews of things like this that I'm just now getting around to seeing/reviewing. I was actually planning on doing another one in the not-too-distant future.

Tom said...

Hey congrats on being nominated for a Lammy!

Tom said...

Multiple nominations, actually. Loved the Ladies of the 80s tournament.

Castor said...

Somewhat entertaining and completely devoid of any conflict to drive the movie. Michael Oher himself is a second-thoughtAbsolutely shocked that Sandra Bullock got an Oscar for this. Good review Dylan :)

Vancetastic said...

There are many bad things to say about this movie, but I thought one of the worst parts was Kathy Bates' character. An utter waste.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the ending touched me a little bit, but I also think it was just the kind of cheap heartstring-tugging that we are all vulnerable to from time to time.

Good thing Sandra Bullock is such a lovely person, otherwise it would be almost a complete waste.

Fletch said...

Daniel - "I think you meant to give this a "Whatever" rating, but...whatever. ;-P"

Funny you should mention that, Daniel. I contemplated it, but really, outside of all the stuff to think about what's wrong with it after the fact, I can't say that I didn't get some joy out of watching it. It's a crowd-pleaser (just one that shouldn't have been nominated for a single Oscar).

Nick - Well, obviously, that guy from R2D2 has some great ideas. Wonder where he gets them?

Tom - many thanks! Always flattering to get any votes, much less nominations. :)

Castor - Indeed, though I will say that I was a bit pleased with the screen time and lines given to Oher (can't recall the actor's name at the moment), but perhaps only because I'd heard comments like that beforehand. It made it seem like he spoke about 10 words; sure, he wasn't as central as he probably should have been, but he was certaily there.

Vance - "I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the ending touched me a little bit, but I also think it was just the kind of cheap heartstring-tugging that we are all vulnerable to from time to time."

I felt the same way. It was effective in that regard, at the least.

Olive said...

I gave this one a miss at the cinema and will probably do the same for the DVD, Oscar winning performance, or no Oscar winning performance. It just looks a little schmaltzy for me?