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The Blind Side

A 2009 movie directed by John Lee Hancock.

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Charming, but Lacks Character

  • Jul 12, 2010
Rating:
+3
In 2009, a little movie called The Blind Side sweeped into theaters and, for the most part, became one of those feel good movies that people decided was worth seeing.  And yes, The Blind Side is a feel good film that's uplifting.  But it's also pretty bland in the process.  Throwing in some of Hollywood's favorite stereotypes, but also making sure that in adapting from the book they simply took a small snippet of it and turned it into something really big. 

First, the book.  The Blind Side was about much more than just Michael Oher.  The book in and of itself was about changing the game.  There were two stories.  One of which wasn't really about Michael Oher.  And the part that was?  Well, Hollywood glazed over quite a bit.  That's not exactly what makes The Blind Side a strange film.  What makes it a strange film is that it is, for the most part, nearly devoid of conflict or any of the characters facing any real challenges.  It's so hell bent on being gooey, sappy and feel goody that it more or less seems to lack any sort of real plot.  It's nice to have a feel good movie, but what makes The Blind Side feel a little stilted is just that it is so much more concerned with being feel goody than actually telling a story or even putting in stakes.  We'll get to just what those stakes are later.  So for those reading this review... there are potential spoilers as we dive into The Blind Side.

The story, as I said, is about Michael Oher.  He's a poor kid who gets taken in by a family of rich people who take a liking to him.  Especially Leigh Anne Tuohy.  She takes him in, buys him clothes lets him sleep on the couch (before buying him a bed to which he says he's never slept in one before).  This is all to get him on his feet and so that he won't have to go back to the ghetto.  Sandra Bullock plays Leigh, the sassy--almost stereotypical--southerner who connects with Michael and helps the boy.  Michael comes off to his teachers as particularly dumb... but Michael's not dumb.  He's simply had a hard life.  He sits there being quiet in most of his classes and doesn't exactly interact with a lot of the other students.  He gets along well with Leigh's children.  Including S.J. who gets a few cute and funny moments (although in the long run he's mostly annoying). 

When Leigh discovers that Michael scored in the top percentile of protective instincts she think Michael might be good to join the football team.  Where we discover this gentle giant just doesn't want to hurt people. It's Leigh who convinces him to play (she might as well have just said, "All you have to do, Mike, is give a damn.") and to actually do what he needs to do.  And thus, he becomes such a good player.  So much so he's got the attention of college coaches who are all bidding for him.  But he's got to get his grades up.  So they bring along a tutor for him (and they throw in some political humor... she's a Democrat and in Tennessee I guess that's illegal or something... the only thing worse would be being gay I suppose).  When it comes to choosing a college the movie FINALLY gets a small bit of conflict.  The problem is it finally shows up in the last fifteen minutes.  When someone goes digging around after Mike chooses to go to 'Ole Miss.  Apparently someone thinks it was a big conspiracy to adopt Michael, make him good at sports and then send him to 'Ole Miss to play football there.  It's dumb, it comes out of left field and it's the only height of actual drama the movie has when Michael confronts Leigh about it.  But it's resolved almost as fast as it's brought up.

And that's what's so unremarkable about The Blind Side.  It's so feel goody that it lacks any real character development.  There are touching moments, sure, but in truth you might as well be watching meat on screen.  The characters have little to no development throughout the entire film.  Even Leigh, portrayed quite well by Sandra Bullock, I admit, just isn't that interesting of a character.  Leigh is sassy and provides some comedy but she's a little too perfect of a character.  Michael, in comparison is a little too gentle. 

Likewise, the movie glazes over some moments.  Will The Blind Side take a moment to say something about race?  Nope.  You just get a joke in which a guy calls up the Tuohy family and remarks that they've got a black guy in the picture.  What a wonderful way to side step actually talking about race in a movie where clearly to some of the characters... race seems to matter.  It glazes over simpler themes too.  There's a lot of talk about family being important, but aside from Michael and Leigh it never really hits home with that.  Michael's backstory in particular is a little weak.  The movie just isn't willing to go into the darker aspects of Michael's life.  Each scene that seems pivotal to developing Michael as a character... gets glazed over by humor so that the audience isn't subjected to any sort of reality.  This is well and good, but it makes for a lot of empty storytelling for the kind of story The Blind Side wants to tell.  There's hardly any internal conflict and hardly anything at stake for the characters involved.  Even that dumb plot point near the end where they're investigating why Michael wants to go to "'Ole Miss," just feels like a conflict they glazed over.  There's hardly any diving into the characters at all.

Let's be clear.  The Blind Side is not a bad movie.  It's just not a great one.  It does have that feel good appeal.  It really does.  But only because when you decide to actually dig and go deep into the conflict the result is a movie that sometimes people aren't easy with seeing.  You get a movie like "Precious," which ends up being better than The Blind Side BECAUSE it's willing to add a lot of depth to the characters and the situation at hand... but isn't exactly going to get a lot of people coming to see it because it's labeled as "too depressing."  So they go see The Blind Side instead.  And hey, there's nothing wrong with wanting to feel good after a film.  That's probably why you went to go see The Blind Side to begin with.  But in all it's "feel good" nature it just doesn't have very many moments where it gives the audience a reason to feel good.  We feel good because Michael found a family... we don't feel good because he escaped his harsh life... because the movie hardly wants to talk about it.  This makes for potential conflict that's ignored and characters that are hardly recognized.  They become simply known as, "Those are the bad guys," while Leigh and her family are obviously the good guys.  The Blind Side has charm... but it doesn't have character.  It does what it needs to do to be likable, but does nothing to make sure you can relate to any of the characters or situations.

Again, it's not a bad movie by any means.  It's just generic.  You'll be taken by Bullock's performance, but probably only because it's unlike anything she's ever done before.  You'll get laughs too.  There's plenty to The Blind Side that you'll like.  Believe me, there is.  It doesn't mean you'll take a whole lot from it, however.  There's hardly anything about the movie that sticks after it's all said and done.  There might be if The Blind Side was willing to reach a little higher. 

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September 10, 2010
Great review. I think they really just wanted to push the whole "protection" motif throughout the movie and in a way it turned out to be a little too Hollywood-ish and didn't seem 100% genuine.
September 10, 2010
It seems that way.  I mean, I like The Blind Side... it's just that it's a movie that has so much potential to be so much better.  But I can't be against people seeing it and just having a good time.  I watched it again recently with a friend and his family and just to see them smiling and enjoying it was good enough for me.  It made watching the movie more fun too.
 
July 28, 2010
I'm glad I found this review - I was planning on renting, and I still will, but at least I've been warned what not to look for as far as expectations. Great review!!
 
July 16, 2010
Excellent review of the Blind Side. I have to agree with all you wrote, it's strictly a warm fuzzy feeling movie. I enjoyed it, but it did definitely leave me with wanting a little more from the characters and the plot. Bravo!
 
July 13, 2010
Excellent review, Sean. I rather enjoyed this movie but I am with you--it wasn't stellar and I have to say the script was a little rough around the edges at certain times. It does make for a great 'feel good' film but hardly a great film. Thanks for the review!
 
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More The Blind Side reviews
review by . March 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Family ties
   When it comes to movies, it’s very important to choose the right person to be its lead casts. This is especially true when it comes to a story like The Blind Side which although is a true real life story, it is one that’s not well known in other parts of the world. What I mean by this is that a movie that’s more a drama than something like Avatar which has plenty of marketing promotional material before its release (or Star Wars for that matter), the story is driven …
review by . June 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I really enjoyed this tale about "Big Mike" or Michael as he prefers to be called.  We see Michael being forced to enter a school that doesn't want him because the football coach thinks he can be a great offensive lineman.    The school reluctantly takes him and because of his size people seem to be afraid of him.       Michael seems to live on the street, finding shelter at the laundromat.  One evening Sandra Bullock sees him walking …
review by . April 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Michael Oher, also known as "Big Mike" (Quinton Aaron) is a teenage, homeless African-American who does not know who his father is, and has a drug addict for a mother. But one night driving home Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) sees Michael walking outside in the cold by himself. Going against her husband, Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw), Leigh Anne picks Big Mike up and takes him to their home so that he can stay at least one night. Big Mike's body size is unusually large, especially for …
Quick Tip by . January 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Not all sap is bad ... What rescued this from the terminally sappy was all the appearances by the real coaches. I'm not a huge sports fan but have lived in the SEC most of my life so it was a but of cute realism that worked.
review by . May 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
REALLY ENJOYABLE TALE BASED ON A TRUE STORY
      THE BLIND SIDE       I did not get to see this in theaters but I did hear nothing but good stuff about it, including one Sandra Bullock's performance. Then of course came the Oscar nomination and the win right afterwards, I hadn't seen the film but I was happy for her. Sandra has done some good stuff before so she earned it, although I had seen "Precious" and thought for sure the leading lady in that had it for sure [still do think she excellent …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I didn't expect to like this movie and intentionally passed on seeing it until after it's release on DVD. Okay, I was wrong...and promise to see all future Sandy B flix in the future--excluding (gasp) sequels to All About Steve, Demolition Man or The Lake House. Based on the true story of Michael Oher, a Black, homeless kid who becomes a standout football player with the help of a White, well-to-do family in the deep South. Leigh Anne (Bullock) is the tough-as-nails matriarch--a God-fearing …
review by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I waited to see this at home for two reasons- 1. There was no way I could drag my husband to see it, and 2. I expected to cry buckets and prefer to do so in my own home. I was right now both accounts- not my hubbys choice in movies, and quite a tear jerker.      Sandy delivers the best acting I think that we have ever seen from her- and inspires everyone to do something about the wrong in the world. All of the acting was above par. Quinton Aron also suprised me- for a part with …
review by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
main reason i wanted to see this movie is because i had heard about the Touhy's story before.  i was excited to see the entire story and especially having sandra play the mom! sometimes i really need to watch something like this to know that there is still good hearts out there and that people may  actually be interested in watching these type of movies. makes it more exciting to know that it was based on real lives. glad they were able to have sandra  play the character of Mrs. …
review by . December 01, 2009
To change one life
   Had I not heard a reviewer comment that Sandra Bullock's performance in this film was "the greatest performance of her career," I probably would not have seen this movie.  What a loss that would have been.      I know that the film is already suffering under the "feel good" banner, and that's unfortunate; the type of cynical folks who generally avoid 'feel good' smarminess could stand to sit for a couple of hours and observe what can happen …
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Good job by the cast and director in putting together the movie. It's only failure is following the American cliche of someone becoming a superstar in a short period of time with very little previous experience. In reality Oher was a skilled player and not a novice when he went to the private high school.
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #8
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Wiki

The Blind Side is a 2009 American drama sports film written and directed by John Lee Hancock, and based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. The storyline features Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who plays for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. The film follows Oher from his impoverished upbringings, through his years at Wingate Christian School (a fictional representation of Briarcrest Christian School, his adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, and on to his position as one of the most highly coveted prospects in college football.

The film stars Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher, Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, Oher's adoptive parents, and Kathy Bates as Miss Sue, Oher's tutor. The movie also features appearances by several current and former National Collegiate Athletic Association coaches, including Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, Phillip Fulmer, Nick Saban, Lou Holtz and Tommy Tuberville, and recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
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Details

Director: John Lee Hancock
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 20 November 2009 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: John Lee Hancock
DVD Release Date: March 23, 2010
Runtime: 128 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
First to Review

"To change one life"
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