So I checked around and I’m the last person on planet Earth to have seen this movie, and after watching I felt compelled (COMPELLED!) to say a few things about it. First off, I liked The Blind Side. I thought it was well-acted and it made me feel good. I like Sandra Bullock, and while I don’t think she necessarily deserved an Oscar for this film, I was happy to see her win the award for her past twenty-some-odd years of work.
But in the end I didn’t find the film to be anything besides a well-acted, well-directed retread of the million bajillion feel-good movies of the year we’ve seen before and will see before we go into the cold, cold ground. There are a lot of folks out there who think the message of The Blind Side is that generous and wealthy white people will always be there to step in and save underprivileged black people who’s parents were addicted to crack. I really don’t think sending a message like was intentional (and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to show a white, Christian family doing good things), just an unfortunate byproduct of a movie that was so completely and utterly predictable.
And the stage is set almost from the beginning. In the scene where Sandra Bullock and the fam find Big Mike walking to “the gym,” (oh wait, he really was walking to gym, huh?) and she tells him to get in the car, my wife said, “And put on this cross, ’cause Jesus will save you.” We all laughed, and I wrote about it on my blog that night. But really, was her comment that off the mark? After watching the rest of the movie, I don’t think so.
Toward the end of the movie, when the NCAA is investigating Mike’s entrance into Ole Miss, I found myself hating (and isn’t “hate” such a strong word?) the woman interviewing him. And for what? Because she was doing her job and was somewhat smug to Sandra Bullock and her angelic blond hair? You’re damn right that’s why. How dare this woman look after the interests of a poor, black child who was possibly being taken advantage of by his rich, white benefactors. Yes, it all becomes a bit ridiculous, but that’s what happens when almost everything about the movie is so stereotypical. Big Mike is just about as poor as he can be, washing his extra shirt in the sink of a local laundromat. The Tuohys are rich, but incredibly generous. All of Mike’s teachers, except for the super-liberal with the douchey beard find ways to work with him and cut him a little slack. I realize The Blind Side is based on true events, but even those are dressed up a bit when worked through the Hollywood machine.
And for more proof of this, we don’t need to look at the characters or any racial undertones. When Mike goes back to his old apartment — which looks like the shi**y Hill Valley from Back to the Future II — wasn’t it awesome how he was able to take on the entire gang, even though they had GUNS? Or Sandra Bullock coming by the next day and threatening the same guy Mike beat up with her Saturday Night Special because she’s a member of the NRA and always packin’? Or the mouthy, racist redneck at the football game who decides to keep his mouth shut once Sandra Bullock yells at him. Or how about when the Tuohys are dropping Mike off at Ole Miss, and Sean, S.J and Mike gawk at the comely coeds walking past. Sean exclaims, “Gee, Mike. I bet you’ll make an A+ in hittin’ that!” or some such nonsense. You can almost hear the laugh track and see Barack Obama being elected president in the background.
Weighty subject matter coated in a thick candy shell. It’s a nice, touching movie, but groundbreaking it is not. Because the plot is so storybook perfect, several of its weightier themes seem like they’re a little glossed over. So, there you go. Make sure you don’t buy into all the hype, or feel bad about skipping this one in theaters. Wait, this movie’s been out how long?