March 4, 2010

The Blind Side Review

The Blind Side
Warner Bros. Pictures
Starring Sandra Bullock, Directed by John Hancock

People are suckers for inspirational biopics, and there is no denying that The Blind Side is purely Oscar bait. The Academy, in this case, very much got hooked into the bait by putting it in the "Best Picture" nominees, thus automatically increasing the publicity of the film hundredfold. After decent box office performance, is the film really deserving of a Best Picture nomination?

Let me spoil the tension: no.

Set in modern day America a few years ago, nobody would've thought that a dude named Michael Oher from the projects would ever gain NHL fame. Near-illiterate and homeless, Michael would go through a hard knock life in a dangerous place with dangerous contacts until Sandra Bullock's character Leigh Anne picks him up to stay for one rainy night. This "one night only" affair would go on 'till the present times, with the Tuohy clan welcoming "Big Mike".

So yes, much set-up for a potential tearjerker, but really without the tears. It's not that The Blind Side is bad, the story just seems too fantastic to believe. If the posters didn't say "Based on a true story", I would've easily written it off as fluffy, okay, and nothing special.

Oh wait, I could still do that.

The movie means well, so I won't bash it for being too patronizing of Whites or Southern people (because it is... and it isn't... I can't explain). I mean, it's quite easy to empathize with the main character, and Sandra Bullock's screen presence is quite warm, but the fact that the family that adopted Michael Oher is filthy, filthy rich just bothers me like all hell. There's much potential in the way of "relatability", but the constant passing mentions of "we get free food because dad owns all these fast food chains" and "it's a $20,000 couch" just ruins everything. OK, OK, this is a true story, which should potentially make this rich, well-off family much more admirable because of their ability to welcome some guy from the street, but... I don't know. I can't really grasp the thought of it.

Bright side is that it does give a bit of a realistic vibe in terms of plot progression, but only in one segment. The fact that Michael has to learn the ropes of football and utilize his "excellent protective instincts" while struggling to attain at least a 2.5 GPA despite difficulties in reading and writing alone is a montage that's quite hard to pull off, and the movie pulls this off wonderfully. Silky smooth even.

But despite that, there are still a lot of moments of predictability, as in, you're simply going to go, "Oh, this is the part where conflict surfaces" or, "Oh, this is gonna be the part where they almost die". Your intuition immediately tells you the sequences that are gonna happen next, and while real life isn't something to be scrutinized and predicted, the movie just does that thing that it does again.

Like many Hollywood biopics, it feels very manufactured, as in it's designed to stroke the crowds' souls and force their eyes to tear up. As admirable a success story and example that Michael Oher serves, there are simply some things about The Blind Side that feels oh-so... uninspiringly inspiring.

It's not a bad movie, by any means, but it's not great either. It's extremely watchable, there are some moments of cleverness and the characters, especially SJ, are likable enough. The movie also manages not to feel as cheesy as you'd think, but there are obviously some moments when the most cynical of us will roll eyes. It's quite entertaining, but it just feels too unbelievable and lacking in, well, a lot of things and in a lot of parts.

It has emotion, but the storytelling needs to be better. Also, Sandra Bullock's performance, while more "nomination-worthy" than Meryl Streep in Julie and Julia, isn't really as good as I thought it would be. I mean, her Southern accent gets lost sometimes, but overall, considering her filmography, this is some pretty substantial stuff.

This ain't no Crash, especially not a Speed 2, but it isn't a total trainwreck either.

Rating: 7.5/10

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