Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Blind Side (**1/2)

The Blind Side. 124 mins. PG-13. Written and Directed by John Lee Hancock. Starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, and Kathy Bates.

Fans of treacly sports dramas are in for a real "treat" with The Blind Side. It's a veritable minefield of cliches and sap, aimed straight at the heart of unassuming moviegoers who want a "feel good" flick that goes down like a spoonful of sugar. The movie has been a surprise hit at the box office, and I have no doubt that millions of moms everywhere are going to love it. The story of Michael Oher, an undereducated, homeless and dirt-poor high schooler who went on to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, is certainly one worth telling. But writer-director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Alamo) falls for all the usual traps associated with this type of movie. There's the cutesy 10 year-old kid who spouts wisecracks the entire time. There's the training montage, where Oher learns how to play football. There are truly stupid lines of dialogue - the most egregious being the one in the preview: "You're changing that boy's life." "No, he's changing mine." That last line is spoken by Sandra Bullock, playing Erin Brockovich. Oops - excuse me, I mean Leigh Anne Tuohy, Oher's adoptive mother and NRA-carrying, Republican spitfire of an overprivileged Southern belle. Bullock is good and no-nonsense, and every once in a while, she's given a scene that rings true and sincere, especially the one where Leigh Anne visits Oher's biological mother. But for every one of those scenes, there's another just around the corner that registers as fake and insincere. I'm pretty sure the tough gangster in Oher's old neighborhood wouldn't threaten him with the line, "I'm gonna pop a cap in your ass." Still, The Blind Side is an easy movie to watch and, for better or worse, it delivers exactly what its previews promise.

- John


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