Film Review: The Blind Side
When I initially saw the trailers for The Blind Side, I thought it looked like your average paint-by-numbers “rags-to-riches” sports story. The presence of Sandra Bullock did nothing to increase my motivation to see this thing. I was floored when it received such high praise from critics. Sandra Bullock received a host of awards for her performance as Michael’s guardian Leigh Anne Tuohy, and the movie even picked up a best picture nomination at the 2009 Academy Awards (mainly due to the expanded field of 10 best pictures, but still). I was interested to see if this thing was any good.
The film tells the story of Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron), an enormous, good natured high school student who enrolls at a Christian High School in the suburbs of Memphis at the behest of a friend. Michael’s home life is extremely unstable: his mother is a drug addict who has birthed numerous children out of wedlock, so “Big Mike” has spent much of his childhood bouncing from home to home. One night, the Tuohys, a wealthy family anchored by Leigh Anne (Bullock) find Michael wandering around aimlessly and offer to let him spend the night sleeping on the couch at their mansion. The rest of the film explores the relationship between the Tuohys and Michael as they become increasingly close.
What I Liked
The performances by the lead actors are generally good. Bullock in particular is entertaining in the lead role; she completely dominates the movie. She’s such a likable person that it’s hard not to root for her or even question any of her motives. Quinton Aaron also does a good job as Michael. Despite not having a ton of lines, he does a good job conveying the emotional distance of his character. The youngest member of the Tuohy clan, 10 year old S.J., provides some laughs as well.
What I Didn’t Like
My main complaint with this movie is the lack of drama or conflict. There was never a moment where I felt any of the characters were in danger of not achieving their goals. Going along with that, the entire movie has such a ridiculously optimistic viewpoint. There’s never a question of whether what the Tuohys are doing is right, even as they’re pushing they’re conservative Christian values in everyone’s face. Finally, the film ignores many of the underlying issues at play, such as the racist overtones surrounding the Tuohys adoption of Michael and the state of depravity of the area that Michael comes from.
At its core, this is a generic sports movie, though it film succeeds in making the viewer care about the characters and has a few nice moments. If you’re looking for moral complexity or a study of institutional racism, look elsewhere. How this was nominated for a best picture I’ll never know. Grade: 6.5/10