April 25, 2010

#075: The Blind Side 3/10

When you are telling a story based in reality, you have to keep it grounded and make it feel real.  Most of the time The Blind Side rang completely false.  Each time I started to get drawn into the story it did something to remind me how foolish it was.  This movie had enough decent moments to make it watchable, but overall felt contrived, trite.  I might be accused of being too cynical, but this film barely manages a 3 out of 10.

When a movie takes on a story like the one told in The Blind Side it has to be very careful not to come over as being racist.  At times if feels like the story of a bunch of gracious white people who go out of their way to rescue a poor black kid that would never have been able to make anything of his life on his own. For the most part this film avoids that "whitey saves the day" vibe, but not entirely.  I realize Sandra Bullock's character has taken this boy in as her own son, but she treats him like an infant.  He is a teenager, yet he is treated like a small child; too stupid to know better.  
I can't criticize Bullock's performance too much.  She is the one thing that keeps this from feeling like a melodramatic after-school special.  She seems to raise the stakes a little bit, even though the story itself doesn't give her much to work with.  I felt like the role of Michael Oher could have been played by a big black mannequin.  They could have rolled him into the scene and let the white people take care of him, then rolled him out again.  I understand that he was closed off and all that stuff, but you have to give us something.  You can't have the one black character seem like a big dumb lug surrounded by all these dynamic white people who have to guide his every step.  The actor that played Michael did have really kind soft eyes, and the physical mass that the part required.  He was a good casting choice, I just wish the film would have allowed us to get to know him a little bit more.  In the final credits they show a short video and pictures of the real Michael Oher.  Those still frames showed us a man with way more personality than the character in this film.

This movie was filled with weak attempts at humor and heavy-handed moments that were supposed to touch our hearts.  Yet my biggest problem was the total lack of conflict.  We were given an overly-sweet tale that just works itself out without a hitch.  We are told that he is having problems at school, but they are never explored or mentioned again.  He is facing allegations from the NCAA and everything is cleared up with a 30 second sit-down in which he delivers a couple heart-felt sentences. Once he is taken in by the Touhey's, everything just falls into place.  There were no stakes to anything that was going on.  There was nothing for me to get invested in. I continued to watch because as humans we still want to see this kid succeed, no matter how clumsily and half-heartedly it plays out.

I didn't expect for this to be a great movie.  From all the praise it got I did however expect it to be well-made and somewhat touching.  I wasn't either of those things.  There were a few good moments, but overall it was a huge disappointment. A lot of people really enjoyed this film, and I just don't see how that is possible.  It would seem like I missed out on something that everybody else was able to latch on to.  I feel bad for my wife because she is no longer able to enjoy these syrupy saccharine films without having to listen to me laughing during the big emotional scenes.

If you haven't seen The Blind Side yet, go ahead and rent it.  Chances are you will like it a lot more than I did.  Maybe there is a small chance you will agree with me and we can bond in our cynicism.

Filed Under: , , ,