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It’s tough to say what doesn’t exactly work about The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock gives a surprising, and pleasing performance as Leigh Ann Tuohy, a woman who takes in a homeless teenage African American named Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). Aaron is also lovely in the film, but from both of these actors one wishes there might have been a screenplay that provided them with opportunities to portray other emotions than the few they must maintain throughout the film.
Tim McGraw portrays Sean Tuohy, Leigh Ann’s husband, and is wonderful. He’s simple, charming, and makes quite a lot of meat out of a character whose main job is to say “yes” to his wife’s every crazy whim.
Blind Side uses one of those terrible overwrought clichés, the precocious adorable little boy. It uses it immensely, throughout the film, as a sucker-punch for emotional moments, and as a source of humor every other time. Jae Head, who plays S.J., is wily and camera-savvy. He knows how to use a wink, a tilt of the head, a point, to get the audience cooing. But in the end, his preciousness takes away some real value from the heart of the story. For it’s not just Leigh Ann who takes in Michael, it’s all of them, as a family, and because John Lee Hancock, the writer-director of the film, has decided to smother us with sentiment, instead of inspiring us with truth, we lose a lot of the emotional power behind the events.
Also an overwrought cliché is the fast-talking, sleazy, gang-banger bad guy. Michael Oher had some bad friends in his old life, and they come back to haunt him, in ways that are neither upsetting nor believable. The structure of the plot for this film was tricky- there was little conflict surrounding the main plot, the bringing in of the boy to the home. This may be because there was little to no conflict in real life. Sometimes true stories are inspiring, but don’t carry the emotional arc that a film needs to maintain its audience’s attention. After almost an entire movie of watching a family embrace a new member, and grow to love that member as their own, the last half-hour of the film is burdened by a sassy NAACP representative and a boring search and rescue. Unnecessary.
Overall, the movie is a pleasant enough story. But it leaves one lacking that feel-good kick that sometimes accompanies a really lovely story about something that actually happened. Especially something as wonderful as this. But the whole movie falls flat, and you’re more likely to leave the theatre thinking about the trailers you saw before the film than the actual film.
Heather Trow is an actress, writer and alternative comedy enthusiast.
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