The Blind Side
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Sometimes there are movies that you feel you know what they’re going to be like before watching them. You think that it’ll be average at best with only a slight possibility of you actually liking the film. In the end, not only is the film better than you anticipated but it makes for one of the best cinematic experiences you’ll have in a while. John Lee Hancock’s The Blind Side is an example of such a movie. It has a lot of gimmicks that seem kind of lame on paper, but the film’s execution is fantastic. It does have its flaws but, for the most part, The Blind Side is a very enjoyable film.
Thanks to the help of a friend’s father, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) has been enrolled in an upscale Christian school. Unfortunately for Michael, he comes from a rough area of town and is practically homeless as his mother is unfit to take care of him. It doesn’t matter that he’s a huge black kid in a sea of middle-to-upper class white kids. He befriends SJ Tuhoy (Jae Head), a young kid who’s got more energy than a case of Red Bull. One rainy evening on the way home from an event at the school, SJ’s family see Big Mike walking around outside in the rain with no coat. SJ’s mother, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) convinces Michael to come home with them for the evening.
One evening turns into another evening and another. Michael ends up spending Thanksgiving with the Tuhoys and he slowly gets adopted into the family. Leigh Anne takes an active approach in Michael’s education. She finds out that he has extremely low test scores and the teachers aren’t exactly tripping over themselves to help him out. The school had accepted Michael because they thought he would be a star football player. However, he doesn’t even seem to be succeeding at that. Leigh Anne struggles to reach Michael; to find out what makes him tick. Slowly but surely, she wears down each layer that he has built up to shield himself from the outside world. Conversely, he also slowly begins to do better at school and better on the football field.
The biggest problem with the film is that it feels too long. It shouldn’t with a runtime of 2:10. However, it feels like you’ve watched several movies before the credits finally roll. It does have pacing issues, but the larger problem is that many scenes feel like they go on a little too long. There are other scenes that feel unnecessary. It doesn’t hurt the film that much, but it felt like an hour and a half had passed while my watch told me that only 45 minutes had gone by.
The only other issue I had with the film was that there wasn’t enough done by the actors to create an emotional bridge with the audience. It felt that the script was doing all the work. Even though Bullock and Aaron did an exceptionally good job in their roles, both felt like they were missing something. During one of the last scenes of the movie when Bullock is supposed to be upset, I couldn’t even tell if she was crying. It felt like she should have been. It would have been even better if there was mascara running down her cheeks. It would have made for a much better emotional impact. As for Aaron, it’s not like the character he was playing had a huge emotional range, but there were times it felt like he was just pretending to be bored rather than someone who has disconnected himself from reality. I don’t know if it was the director’s fault for not giving the actor’s proper guidance to display their personas or if the actor’s themselves who didn’t think beyond the borders of the script.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Those were only minor gripes. It could have been a lot worse but some of the gimmicks I was worried about leading up to watching the film actually had some substance to them. One thing that usually cries lack of ingenuity is having one of the children characters act smarter than those around him and spout off clever lines as if they’re the next Bart Simpson. In the case of this movie, it works well: SJ plays the loudmouth little kid of the family who befriends Big Mike before anyone. He stays with him to the end and offers him all the help he can offer. He adds to the story instead of detracting it. It doesn’t become the SJ show. He compliments the seriousness of the movie with a sense of humour.
The writing is not completely a bed of roses as there are some questionable storylines. The whole idea that Bullock walks into the poor side of Memphis and is tougher than anyone there is sort of laughable and Kathy Bates’s character feels like a nothing addition to the movie (although she plays her part extremely well). However, the movie feels strongly well-rounded, nonetheless. It doesn’t feel like a gimmick that Bullock’s character is a football genius considering that the whole town is football crazy. What makes it work even better is that she exudes such confidence when she’s showing off her knowledge. Another thing that works well is the character development of Collins Tuhoy (Lily Collins). Her character is often neglected by the script, yet we see her evolve naturally. This may have something to do with the fact that the movie feels like it runs too long but it’s to see that the only person in the Tuhoy family that doesn’t play a major role in the progression of the film isn’t forgotten about in the overall scheme of things.
The Blind Side could have been better but then again, it could have been a lot worse. Even though some of the not-so-great parts of the movie feels like a chunk of food stuck in the teeth, it still is a great movie. John Lee Hancock did a good job, but he could have done a better job. Same goes for the actors as well. Despite that, it’s an easy film to recommend. In fact, if the cast and crew had looked like they were giving it their A game, this would have been a five-star movie.
This post was originally published on this site on February 20, 2010. The original review is intact with some minor grammatical changes and film stills were added for this revision.