: Based on the true story of football player, Michael Oher
, who plays for the Baltimore Ravens (the book is written by Michael Lewis
). A White, conservative, Tennessee family lets a homeless Black teen sleep on their couch. He is welcomed as part of the family, his grades improve and with some unusual coaching from Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock
), the mother of the family, it's discovered Michael has a talent for football.
: For many African-Americans, a story like The Blind Side
is all too familiar in the history of cinema. First, there is the element of the "Great White Hope" -- a white character who saves the life of the poor, uneducated Negro, showing him how to be "civilized" and "sophisticated." Without the "Great White Hope" the Black characters can't accomplish success on their own. Second, there is the "Magical Negro," the Black character teaches Whites compassion, folklore-like lessons and other doses of emotionality (think Hattie McDaniel
in Gone With The Wind
, Sidney Poitier
in The Defiant Ones
, or, a recent example, Morgan Freeman
in Bruce Almighty
). With all of that said... this is a true story. You can't hate a story for being true, even if it channels legendary Hollywood stereotypes.
There is so much thought-provoking material to explore in The Blind Side
but it's as if the director, John Lee Hancock
, was afraid to tackle the edgy (and obvious) subject matters like race, poverty and drug addiction. Therefore, every potentially good moment is washed over with some Southern twang and a toss of Sandra Bullock's hair. For example, Leigh Anne Tuohy, who picks Michael off the street in the rain, was allegedly raised in an extremely racist environment and her father pulled her out of the Tennessee public school system when it was integrated.
Was Leigh Anne never affected by racism?
Was she ever racist or did her feelings of race vanish when she looked into Michael's brown eyes?
There are plenty of downtrodden Black boys in Memphis, Tennessee roaming the streets -- why did she reach out to Michael Oher?
Did the Touhy family confront their own prejudices when this African-American boy moved into their home?
Unlike Sissy Spacek
in The Long Home
or Michelle Pfeiffer
( while fictional, these two films contain no elements of "The Great White Hope" or "The Magical Negro"), the Tuohys own background is never explored, which might have made this good movie into an excellent flick.
There are some uncomfortable scenes, like Tim McGraw
's character, who plays the father, says about Michael, "He thinks he is a redneck!" Or, Sandra Bullock sashaying through the Memphis projects, fearless of the "gangsters" and saying, "I am a member of the NRA!" as she pats her purse that supposedly holds a gun. On the other hand, as a viewer, you can't help but be amazed at the compassion from the Tuohy family. Black or White, the Touhys helped changed a young man's life.
Sandra Bullock's performance is being praised and it is her best in years, but not Oscar worthy like 2004's Crash
. Yes, Bullock's performance glues the film together but she didn't have one climactic monologue to see her acting chops and her character basically remains the same. Thankfully, The Blind Side
proves Bullock has more range than those bland romantic comedies
In his first film, Bronx native Quinton Aaron
plays Michael. Aaron definitely has potential but in The Blind Side
he gives a one-note performance and you can nearly see his nerves rattling on camera. Maybe it was the writing, but the character was underdeveloped with little depth; you couldn't tell if Michael was portrayed as socially awkward or developmentally disabled. This movie is based on Michael Lewis' book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
, but this film is not Michael's story. In the end, it's more about Leigh Anne Touchy and Sandra Bullock being the star.
Regardless of the racial implications, The Blind Side
is a true story that is told fairly well. It's a story that seems almost too good, therefore, you have to let go of Hollywood's betrayal of African-American story lines to thoroughly enjoy it.
The Blind Side
is in theaters now.