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The Blind Side Exactly What I Dreaded

Published November 19, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
The Blind SideThe Blind Side
The Blind Side is exactly what I dreaded from the trailers. It’s Sandra Bullock looking directly into camera and telling us how important this is. Not that it’s Bullock specifically, but she’s the actor Hollywood hired to portray their version of things. I believe the real Leigh Anne Tuohy did a wonderful, selfless thing and I told her so when I interviewed her. She deserves a better movie to be made about her. This feels like Hollywood taking credit for her good deed, simply by association, and I resent that.

Review: The Blind Side

Leigh Anne becomes the typical pushy, demanding power woman that actresses like Bullock frequently play. And I’m sure they’d rather have more depth, but as a minority they’re lucky just to get a lead role. To me, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) totally seemed like her project (again, not the real Leigh Anne, the superficial Hollywood version). It’s a good deed because it’s going to end up well for him, but it’s still self-righteous. “I’m saving the day. Look how generous I am.” Real charity isn’t so proud of itself. They just do it. I bet Tuohy knows that.

The only potential downside to the Tuohy’s efforts is portrayed as complete one dimensional villainry. Leigh Anne’s cougar friends are just there to validate how selfless and nonjudgmental she is (again, movie Leigh Anne. Real Leigh Anne, you’re a saint.) The NCAA investigator really came to town, but it feels like Hollywood didn’t even understand that issue.

A spokesperson for the NCAA interrogates Oher for choosing Ole Miss. Get this: She’s afraid that if Michael goes to his adoptive family’s school, that will encourage other rich people to adopt homeless athletes and send them to their alma maters. Lady, if other rich people adopt homeless boys and prep them for college, that would be GREAT! The school can accept whoever it wants. As if it would corrupt the purity of the sport if a competing school didn’t get the star athlete they wanted because he felt a connection with the family alma mater. Instead of exploring that though, the movie version just says “NCAA bad, Oher good.”

Even the Tuohys’ own doubts about their motivations are all about themselves. “Did WE do a good thing?” It’s not a fair and balanced perspective when all the doubters are awful and your only self-doubt is designed to validate the answer you want, which is, “Yes, of course we’re amazing people.” Not that a movie has to show both sides, but if you’re going to, they both have to be equally valid. The real Tuohys didn’t seem like glory hounds. Their movie counterparts do.

I really don’t feel okay about the Tuohy’s buying Michael a car. Taking care of him is good but giving him luxurious stuff? Forget about the possibility of an accident. Just as values, how is it healthy to give away cars? Even charity needs to have some sense of responsibility. I didn’t get a chance to ask about that because I was more interested in the NCAA issue.

All the “awwww” moments are so blatant it’s laughable. The innocence of a child connects with Michael. He gets his first bed. They talk in phrases that dictate emotion. Of course Leigh Anne isn’t changing Michael’s life. “No, he’s changing mine.” It’s a whole movie of trailer moments to indicate the emotional keystones.

The expository scenes barely even feel like dialogue. They just explain the situation and the challenges facing him. Only two images actually convey what life was like for Michael Oher. He picks up leftover food from the stadium, and he hides his laundry in a dryer someone else paid for. That’s a tough life.

With all this, there’s not much football. There are a few cute gags on the field and it shows him as a powerful player, but this is not a football movie. Football is the Maguffin for his success. He gets success, but that’s not about him either. It’s about Hollywood saying, “We care about this powerful story. Look what these wonderful people did. We get behind this.” The filmmakers didn’t have anything to do with it, and they’re not even contributing artistically to the wonderful family who did.

There are good movies about people who did good deeds. The Hurricane didn’t portray the people who helped Rubin Carter as bragging about it. They just got sh*t done. The only moment with any sincerity at all is the shot of the real Michael Oher at the end. The Blind Side is worse than a movie of the week because it thinks it’s more than an issue movie. Now it’s worse because it’s so sanctimonious about its own importance.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of respective holders

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