Title: The Blind Side
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron
Plot Summary: An affluent white Southern family adopts an athletically gifted homeless black teen. They provide a bed, home, food and educational assistance that eventually allows the teen to pursue a football career.
My Thoughts: The Blind Side is based on Michael Lewis' book (same name) about physically gifted but socially disadvantaged teen Michael Oher.
The story is fairly well known by now, and the movie is directed as the quintessential holiday feel-good hit. It wastes no time charging the emotions with a sad soundtrack to match the tragic life circumstance of the principal character, Oher.
I have some pretty mixed feelings about the film, and it could be that I'm just over thinking it.
It does deliver on the tugging-at-the-heartstrings mission of the typical holiday hit. Pretty much all of the ladies in the theater were tearing up within 20 minutes of the start of the movie. By the time Michael Oher admitted that "I've never had a bed before" there wasn't a dry female eye in the house.
But there was something about how the film was executed that just made me felt a little uneasy. It's a good story, don't get me wrong. But I don't know if it was the directing or the editing or what, but it just came across to me a bit exploitative.
One problem is that the story is rife with stereotypes. From the affluent southern bigot to the redneck southern bigot to the black gangster thug to the poor ghetto junkie mother, there was no real character development even in the primary characters.
The other problem I had was what I perceived to be a not-so-subtle mixture of white guilt and White Man's Burden. The implication was that these white folk could save the black folk. It was a simplistic portrayal of race relations, where there was an opportunity to take a serious and sincere look at social issues that still exists.
Finally, Sandra Bullock's portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy really was tragic. I guess it could have been the director's fault, but Bullock managed to take what should have been one of the most sympathetic characters -- the woman who took a black kid from the projects into her home, fed him, clothed him and championed his education -- and make her an unlikable shrew.
Bullock's interpretation of Tuohy was that of an uptight, bossy, entitled harpy. Really, I remarked to my Supermodel Wife at about the 30-minute mark that "That woman hasn't smiled once yet." A few minutes later, she managed to squeeze out the ghost of a grin, but made it look painful, like it was about to break her face.
It was really almost enough to make me racist in reverse.
The rest of the cast did an okay job. Tim McGraw played an Everybody Loves Raymond househusband and Jae Head channeled Macaulay Culkin circa 1990 as the youngest sibling. Kathy Bates... was in the movie.
The best acting job probably goes to Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher, though the sparse dialogue and understatedness of the character made it easy for him.
I hate to get too down on the movie. Like I said, a lot of people really liked it and it is a good story -- maybe even inspiring if you don't think too much about it. I would recommend the book over the movie, though.
Final Rating: Two out of five stars.
tagged: movie, review, The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock, Michael Oher, football, Tim McGraw