Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Blind Side is exactly what you expect. My mom thought it would be a higher-quality Lifetime flick with all its fist-pumping inspiration, and I thought it would be a hackneyed cliché-athon. Turns out we were both right.
So, future star left tackle Michael Oher is a poor giant without a home who is taken in by the warm, white arms of the Tuohy family, led by their spitfire matriarch, and the film centers on the give-and-take between the magical Negro and the superheroine. Yes, the characterizations are that shallow, especially in the supporting arena with the precocious kid and the close-minded socialites. Sandra Bullock is undeniably charismatic as Mrs. Tuohy—and this is poor evidence but I honestly forgot I was watching Bullock until the movie was over—the year’s most mesmerizing Mary Sue and The Blind Side’s greatest asset.
But the rest of the film is haphazardly slapped together, from poor Carter Burwell’s misused, alternately plaintive and faux inspiring score to screenwriter-director John Lee Hancock’s banal collage of clichéd episodes. How will Michael get into school, how will he get his grades up, how will he fit into the Tuohy family, how will the Tuohys’ friends react, how will he work out on the football team, how will he perform in the game? There’s even a moment, in the middle of a game, where the coach declares his paternal love for Michael to a negligent referee.
It’s a watchable film with a welcome message of fraternity and charity, but its morality is compromised by the final act, which posits, via both Michael and Mrs. Tuohy, that violence is sometimes the answer. No thought was put into this catastrophically shallow film, which by the way is almost explicitly unconcerned with race, encapsulated in a central scene at the country club. When one of Mrs. Tuohy’s icy socialite friends tells her how she’s changing that boy’s life, Mrs. Tuohy responds, “No. He’s changing mine.” It would have been powerful if it were true, if Mrs. Tuohy weren’t demonstrably, perfectly open-minded from the get-go. Instead, like the film, it’s an empty moment of seeming significance, boilerplate compassionate conservatism passing as heartwarming inspiration. My mom loved it.