The Blind Side
I thought I was done with discussing lifeless movies with An Education but evidently, I was wrong, because in visiting the remaining contenders for Best Picture at this years Oscars I encountered The Blind Side. Here is yet another film that would rather be banal and heavy on the “feel good” rather than any substance or depth. That’s not to say it is in any way bad, but distinctly average.
Directed and written for the screen by John Lee Hancock, it tells the story of a homeless black teen, Michael or ‘Big Mike’ Oher (Quinton Aaron) who is taken in and subsequently adopted by wealthy interior decorator Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her well-to-do family. Showing an aptitude for sports, he learns to excel at both football and his studies so he can have the start in life of which he was otherwise deprived.
The story itself is far from awful, but never triumphs because from the beginning. Everything goes right, with almost everyone looking to help Michael. The one significant roadblock in Michael’s path is so arbitrary and late in the plot that it still offers no real drama. Each have their reasons; a coach seeing in him a chance to win the season; a teacher looking to help a troubled student in an otherwise sedated student body; and Tuohy herself who seems eternally attracted to projects of any kind. However the overriding concern, is that each seems in some way motivated by a degree of white guilt, the need to a help a group they believe incapable of doing of doing for themselves despite this itself being a form of racism. So much so that one teacher only takes a large interest in him after reading a poem written by him about how he feels as if he is the only black person there. Every character who deals with him feels so good about themselves, that you must wonder if they would have felt as fulfilled if they’d found an injured puppy or simply bought themselves a tamagotchi. This is only further highlighted by the supreme lack of screen time given to Aaron’s character in general, in a film supposedly about him.
Bullock does a wonderful job of acting as one would expect her to, harnessing an amalgamated version of her earlier roles into the pushy but likable stage mom that she is here. It is perhaps her best dramatic work to date, but considering how few and far between those roles are within her gallery, it is more of an assertion than fact. It may be far more involved a role than Miss Congeniality 2 but Mr. Goodbar this is not. Tim McGraw as Mr Tuohy is equally as charming as her doormat husband who knows when to let her have her way more than anything else. Everyone else within this world is a stock character, there to serve their purpose and disappear until the next time they’re need, with little in the way of development or real dialogue occurring.
A thoroughly likable, if not adventurous movie, The Blind Side is a movie scared to show teeth for fear that it damages it’s earning potential.