Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Blind Side

I didn't really want to see this, I knew it wasn't for me, but then I hear talk of Sandra Bullock potentially garnering awards talk for this, and the media attention about how well this film is performing, and a boring day, so what the hell! Well, The Blind Side, based on the true story of Michael Oher, is an out-dated, overly earnest sports\social drama that feels about twenty years old. The film even mentions Driving Miss Daisy, and in the back of my mind, I kept thinking this is probably the era where it belongs, as a minor Field of Dreams or The Natural (those are baseball, and this is technically about football, but you see my point.)

It's an over-long tale of a nice a Southern Christian woman (Sandra Bullock), a well-to-do interior decorator named Leigh Anne Tuohy who rebuilds the broken childhood of Oher (Quinton Aaron), a big, homeless, uneducated black guy from the wrong part of town. Thankfully, the rich white lady drove her fancy car down the road one day to find the pitiful black boy walking down the street in the rain. I can get over the story since it's apparently true, but it's also told in a way that's self serious and overly corny. All of Oher's tragic experiences come across fake and mannered, not rousing and vibrant in the similar themed crappy childhood drama Precious.

I think even Frank Capra might have been snoozing through this one. It's very structured and overly schematic; there's no sense of danger that this might not end well, which drags the story and performances; all of which are perfunctory and well-intentioned, but aren't allowed to go anywhere. The Blind Side was directed by John Lee Hancock, who also made the fine 2002 baseball film The Rookie (allowing a great performance to be built up by Dennis Quaid), and the costly failure The Alamo. As the box office returns have noted, Hancock has a hit here, and thus is out of movie jail, but never does The Blind Side ever breathe-- it's a very connect-the-dots film. The most illogical part of the film is that after one successful high school football game, Oher is suddenly in demand for college schlorships, c'mon!

As for Bullock, I really don't see that Oscar nomination happening, or perhaps that's wishful thinking, she's always been a warm performer and has had a hell of year (The Proposal earlier this year was her biggest box office sucess ever), but she's very mannered and oddly restrained, especially for playing a ballsy no-nonsense Southern gal. And her accent is more than grating. Plus she really doesn't get any great Oscar-bait histrionic scenes, in fact the way Bullock plays her it seems her biggest conflict in the way her society friends treat her new "charity." C-

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