Blind Side, The (2009)
Release Date: November 20th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: John Lee Hancock Actors: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon
espite the blonde hair and awkward accent, Sandra Bullock is unusually watchable as the lead character in “The Blind Side.” The plot of uncommon human kindness and charity is a formula for box office success and reasonable entertainment, but the execution is incredibly conventional. When the credits finally roll, the film is just another standard inspirational sports drama – the kind that keeps popping up in theaters at least once a year.
Michael “Big Mike” Oher (Quinton Aaron) is a gentle giant, a Ferdinand the Bull, a colossal man of few words. He’s also had a difficult life, separated from his brothers and drug-addicted mother at an early age, abandoned by foster parents, various caretakers, and the system of education, and now resides in the poor, crime-ridden projects of Memphis. His schooling has been less than adequate, but he’s given the rare opportunity to go to a private Christian high school in a far superior neighborhood.
At first it’s all white walls and white people – a completely new and disconcerting environment for Michael – until, by chance, he meets Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), a kind-hearted, straight-forward, go-getter mom who offers him a place to sleep for a few nights when she discovers he’s homeless. Her family quickly takes a liking to him, despite his enormously intimidating size. Sister Collins (Lily Collins) gets some stares in class when the other students find out about her new family member; father Sean (Tim McGraw), a very wealthy Taco Bell chain owner doesn’t mind him at all; and little brother S.J. (Jae Head) enthusiastically welcomes his protective presence. Michael’s immense stature draws the attention of the sports coach Cotton (Ray McKinnon), who must train the boy to gain some aggression and become an NFL-worthy offensive left tackle.
One of the biggest detractors in “The Blind Side” is the lack of conflict. There are some emotional moments, the best of which are revealed in the theatrical trailer, but the hurdles Oher must overcome aren’t presented in a tender or thrilling manner. Instead, audiences are presented with the typical montages, rousing football maneuvers, and slow-motion plays that are customary for Hollywood sports flicks. The moving ideas are always enjoyable, but the clockwork arrangement of events is influentially lacking.
It isn’t even completely new ground for director John Lee Hancock, who helmed sports drama “The Rookie” in 2002. As if meeting some inspirational film quota, an uplifting tune plays over the conclusion, a motivational voiceover finds its way into the finale, an epilogue appears, and photos of the real people on which the script is based roll during the credits (adapted from Michael Lewis’ true-to-life book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game”). Oddly enough, revealing itself to be much more of a biopic than a fictional drama doesn’t achieve any extra significance.
– Mike Massie