Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Boy On The Side

The audience for The Blind Side will find it to be filled with twists and surprises unless they've ever turned on ESPN in the past few years. Anyone who's done that they'd have seen a fellow named Michael Oher playing left tackle for Ole' Miss before being a first round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens. That sort of takes the suspense out of anything you may see playing out on the screen. The kid isn't going to die of leukemia or suffer a career ending game injury or have his leg gnawed off by a badger the day before his first big game or however the hell sports movies usually end. Hell, as of this writing he's scheduled to play the Packers on Monday Night Football. This is a problem since the movie isn't all that great and would have been more entertaining, for me at least, had I not known it would all turn out all right. Quality-wise, this movie is about as good as another recent movie about a real life football player overcoming adversity called The Express. The difference for me is that I didn't know much about that story so the suspense was enough to hold my attention. Not so with The Blind Side.

Sandra Bullock apparently never received the memo that women her age aren't supposed to have successful Hollywood careers and stars in her third movie, and second big hit, this year as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a Memphis interior decorator who is used to having the world around her bend to the force of her will. Through a series of circumstances, she meets a homeless boy named Michael Oher. Leigh Anne doesn't seem like the overly sentimental type but she takes him into her life and the lives of her family because Michael is one of the most decent people she's ever met and he has no one else. Leigh Anne is a huge football fan and the movie opens with a monologue from her describing the famous moment when Lawrence Taylor sacked Jim Theisman. Theisman's career ended and the importance of the left tackle was elevated since they had to protect the quarterback from guys like Lawrence Taylor. Leigh Anne quickly realizes that Michael possesses the physical gifts that would make him an excellent left tackle and from then on the movie becomes the story of Michael and his new family overcoming any obstacles that stand between Michael and his destiny to play in the NFL.

The Blind Side isn't a particularly bad movie. It's also not a particularly good movie. It's just...bleh. Sandra Bullock's good as is Tim McGraw as her husband but Quintin Aaron who plays Michael always seems to be asleep. Michael is supposed to be a very withdrawn person who, due to his lack of education (though it turns out he's quite intelligent), simply stares at the ground when people speak to him because he doesn't understand a great deal of what they're saying. The problem with that is that neither the actor nor the filmmakers could make that something that was particularly interesting to watch.

The Blind Side is a feel-good movie and I did feel good coming out of the movie, partly because for once a nice guy didn't finish last and partly because the movie was over. It's also teaches poor black people that the best way to change their circumstances is to be adopted by rich white people. That, I think, is a lesson that could benefit us all.

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