The Blind Side

I am loving The Blind Side. I’m not exactly sure why, but I really like this movie. Yes, it’s a cheese fest and filled with melodramatic sentimentality, but it’s really good. I understand why Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for her performance of a domineering suburban wife; she plays the material incredibly and is completely compelling. Normally I don’t get dragged into syrupy Hollywood, feel-good dribble but this film does it right.

Quinton Aaron plays Big Mike (Michael Oher), future Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman and destitute teenager from the projects, living on the streets and wherever he can lay his head. Ending up at an upper-class Christian private school (Wingate in Memphis, Tennessee) because of his size and athletic potential, the staff soon learns Michael isn’t a big, dull young man but one not afforded an education and coming from a broken home – his mother is addicted to crack and his father left within a week of his birth. In comes Leigh Anne Tuhoy (Bullock), who recognizes Michael’s grim situation and bring him home, eventually bringing him into the family and adopting him. Michael begins playing football and after a few false, lukewarm starts he becomes a phenomenal player, bringing Wingate into another sphere and attracting the attention of almost every large football college in the nation.

When I first saw the preview for The Blind Side in theaters I couldn’t help but think one phrase. I’m reluctant to share it because it could come across as potentially racist but that’s not my intention. Sufficient to say, I felt Bullock’s treatment of Michael in the previews was akin to one’s relationship to a pet they find on the roadside – loved primarily as an object of pity. I still feel that way somewhat after watching the film but director and writer John Lee Hancock does a great job with an overtly sentimental story, heavy on schmaltz and melodrama. However, Bullock plays her part magnificently, taking what could’ve been a trite, mediocre role and turning it into cinematic gold. Between Hancock’s clever filmmaking and Bullock’s dynamic presence on the screen, the film is at the pinnacle of these kinds of popcorn movies.

The film is obviously geared towards a white audience, claiming white Christians are the answer to inner city problems. Michael’s mother, addicted to crack and promiscuous (having around a dozen children with multiple partners), isn’t depicted as totally devoid of feeling or regret, but it does present the situation as salvageable by upper-class white charity. In essence, I felt the story was an expression of white guilt but still treated black Americans as secondary, reliant on the charity of Caucasian Christians for any socioeconomic advancement. Maybe I’m delving too deeply into a popcorn film, looking for meaning where it’s potentially absent, yet this touching, heartwarming story has this issue at its core; it inadvertently explores race relations in America and shows very few  financially solvent black Americans who haven’t received support from wealthy white Americans. However, as I said before, the story is compelling and I’m willing to overlook this because the film is so compelling and Bullock plays her part with great aplomb.

One of my favorite moments in The Blind Side involves Michael brief exploration of action hero tropes. Towards the end of the film Michael visits his old, dilapidated neighborhood looking for his mother and ends up hanging out with her neighbor – a neighborhood crack dealer. Going all Die Hard on the goons when they insult Bullock, Michael tears the place apart and beats the living hell out of everybody. He knocks guns out of people’s hands, destroys electronics, and bludgeons the lead drug dealer like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In a film devoid of action, this scene creates tension, albeit through ridiculous action. It was one of those moments when I couldn’t help laughing, completely amused by the film’s navigation into the absurd.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Blind Side, even getting weepy towards the end. Although I didn’t shed any actual tears I was moved by this sentimental piece of Hollywood twaddle. Through the trailer I assigned the film a status I feel is incorrect after watching the film from top to bottom and it’s a prime example of how a trailer is sometimes not the best determiner of a good film. It’s rare I enjoy a film like this, usually believing its something only bovine America would enjoy, but I highly recommend The Blind Side, especially for those looking for a touching, albeit melodramatic, drama about an underdog overcoming sociopolitical odds and becoming a well respected professional football player.

Here’s the trailer

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7 responses to “The Blind Side

  1. greetings from paris.

    i especially emjoyed the part about bovine america. if it was easier to type on my kindle browser i would write more. alas, it is not. love you. xoxo.

  2. Dear Ladyfriend,
    I’m glad you liked my crack about bovine Americans. I feel it’s accurate, at least for the most part. I’m glad Paris is fun and I got your picture and I’m awaiting more. Love you too. =)

  3. So you were surprised that this movie turned out decent in the end? In a way then, it… (giggle) BLIND SIDE’d you?

    /guffaw guffaw

    I gotta admit I was surprised to see you reviewed this film after praising Night of the Living Dead and Robocop, for example, but it seems you enjoyed it even though it wasn’t your usual habitat. It’s a shame they crammed that action-filled bit in the end and made it laughably over-the-top, but that’s Hollywood for you. Kings of subtlety.

  4. I really thought it would be complete garbage after seeing the trailer but I was wrong. My girlfriend suggested it (it was from on the HBO in-demand channel) and I said, “What the hell.” I really did enjoy it, regardless of its corniness. I think I said in my post it’s a quality piece of dribble, hitting all the right notes and with panache. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t overly sentimental Hollywood rap, targeting Middle America. Including a country movie star in the main cast is another nod towards the film being a cross media money making vehicle but I’ve never heard Tim McGraw’s music so what do I care?

  5. emily.dail.92@facebook.com

    As the white Christian adoptive mother of two darling brown girls, I find your comments to be rather offensive. Michael Oher’s fantastic true story is yet another example of amazing love offered by loving people. The fact that these REAL people who supported Michael were white and Christian should not be insulted and called “Hollywood Twaddle”. Should Hollywood have hidden the fact that the real people in the story were of the race they are? Should they have falsified this deserving story and reversed racial roles to make it politically correct? Michael did great things with his life. He has published his memories and points to his adoptive family as being a part of his heart and a part o his success. I’m disappointed that you would minimize the beautiful now mixed race Tuhoy family and their achievements. How insulting. This story is fabulous and true. Political correctness should NEVER overshadow truth, love, and honest hard work.

    • emily.dail.92@facebook.com

      Could you please change my name to Emily in the previous post? I had done so but after fixing a couple typos I guess it reverted back. Or you may just delete it if you can’t change the name. Thank you. Emily

  6. Emily,

    If you’re pro-life and adopted those two children I have three words that are appropriate: Good for You. I mean that with sincerity, as I can’t stand pro-lifers that don’t adopt the kids they want to save. I think you should watch Doug Stanhope’s view on overpopulation to gain a new perspective on abortion but I still applaud you practicing what you preach.

    As for The Blind Side, the movie was terrible. You seem to think I’m against mixed race families or white people adopting black children. This isn’t true. What I’m against is the marketing of the movie, where the selfless, wealthy white woman takes in the downtrodden black child, showing Christian-like mercy and a heart of gold. Why don’t they have the story about a selfless, wealthy black woman adopts a poor white kid? Wait, that’s right – socioeconomic conditions, favoring white people, make it harder for black Americans to obtain the tools necessary to compete in today’s world. If you think I’m joking take a look at how tax dollars are distributed to public schools and you’ll see a large disparity between black and white neighborhoods. Have you ever wondered why the rich areas sometimes have swimming pools at their school while the poor areas go without? Sandra Bullock’s character owns a bunch of fast food restaurants, where she employs people at minimum wage and probably uses some pretty fucked up tactics, coinciding with what these chains normally do, and yet she calls herself selfless for taking in one person? Maybe she should pay her employees better, give more to programs that help the poor, instead of adopting just one needy child and acting like she’s Jesus.

    Other than that, I actually liked The Blind Side. It had all the markings of a heartwarming Hollywood movie and it was played to perfection. It’s still fluff and insulting but I can’t deny it’s well made.

    Finally, I will not edit your name, Emily. I don’t see where you put in in wrong anyways. Stop watching The Blind Side and pay more attention to what you’re doing online.

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