Tuesday, February 23, 2010

movie review: The Blind Side

The Blind Side 
I put off seeing The Blind Side for months. Even after hearing all of the Sandra Bullock Best Actress hype, I waited. After she won the SAG award, I decided to see it, but it still took a Best Picture Oscar nomination to finally coax me into the theater. I went in with an open mind, and I enjoyed parts of the movie. The problem, however, is that it's not a great movie. It's less deserving of it's Best Picture nomination than Avatar is. Hear me out.

I know people love this movie, and that's fine. Loving a film does not make it great. Yes, I teared up a few times during this film, which plays upon the viewer's emotions numerous times. The problem with this movie is that it doesn't play to the viewer's intellect at all. The Blind Side is a better than average sports movie. It's an average movie. It lacks nuance and intelligence. It's a tearjerker without much substance. It's an oversimplification of a true story. 
On a continuation and plot note, when Michael gets into the school, what happened to Big Tony and his son? Did I miss a scene explaining why both boys weren't let in?
Seriously, I did not like Avatar, but at least that film pushed the boundaries of visual effects and the idea of what film is and can do. I don't believe any film without a strong screenplay and/or acting has an business in a Best Picture race, but Avatar has more right to be there than The Blind Side, which doesn't press the boundaries of film in any way. Although I did not care for The Blind Side, it is not a bad movie. It has a moral message and inspiration many viewers will respond to. I prefer my morality with the nuances of real life, but I appreciate that many like their feel-good stories to be reality free. Yes, this film, based on a true story, is rather loosely tied to the story that inspired it.Mark Harris wrote a fantastic column in Entertainment Weeklyt last week about the film's departure from and oversimplification of the book. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear on their Web site yet. The biggest problem with the adaptation is that the true story is actually inspiring, gritty and fascinating. It's a film I would have liked to see. The Feminist Review, an always delightful blog, has a fantastic review of The Blind Side.

As for Sandra Bullock, she was good. I don't understand the big deal about her performance either. Her character's coping mechanism seemed to be to walk away any time emotion began to register on her face. She had license to be a bitch, and I understand she is a very sweet person in real life, so perhaps that is the draw. Her performance doesn't have the weight of Meryl Streep as Julia Child or to Carey Mulligan's emotional and intellectual journey  in An Education.

The bottom line: if you like sports movies and/or pompous white people, you'll probably enjoy this film. If you like your true stories a little more true and your sports stories more nuanced to include the racial, social and economic impact of NCAA athletics, read the book. Know what this film is going in: an average, emotional film that has no business being nominated for Best Picture. Is it unfair to blame the film for being nominated for the award? Absolutely, but backlash is part of the awards game.After seeing so many great films this year, it's really hard to stomach a mediocre film being nominated for Best Picture.

Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
Running time: a laborious 128 minutes
Release date: it's in theaters now and will be out on dvd March 23, 2010.
Source: I foolishly paid $8 to see it at the Madison Theater.


  1. With the expansion of Best Pictures nods from five to ten, you knew there'd be something in there that was a huge commercial success but maybe not as artistically pushing the envelope as other films in the category. I chalk up the nod to the Academy not wanting a backlash like last year for not nominating The Dark Knight. This year's flavor of choice was this movie.

    I've not seen it, but I fully expect that Dark Knight was better in just about every way and more deserving.

    Also recall that a lot of it is the marketing machine behind the films....

  2. I completely agree the Academy wanted more commercial successes in there, but having seen the films not nominated for Best Picture that are so much more deserving depresses me. The most glaring omission is The Messenger, which is the best film of the year. I've long bemoaned producers who release their "Oscar" films in December, especially those who only open in one city to become eligible. If we ever want middle America to rally behind the great films, we've got to fix the Oscar schedule somehow. The Dark Knight was amazing. It was genre defining, and many years it might have had a shot.

  3. What a great resource!


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