The Blind Side, a sports film directed by John Lee Hancock, has generated headlines for being the first Hollywood film propelled solely by a female star to cross 200 million dollars at the box office. It also won a Golden Globe for Sandra Bullock and has put her on the fast track for the best actress Oscar. However, I'm sorry to report that The Blind Side left me absolutely underwhelmed.
The Blind Side is based on a true story but Hancock sugar coats it and creates a feel-good fairy tale that doesn't acknowledge or even allude to the conflict and tension inherent in the narrative. An unusually large and horrifically poor African-American boy moves in with an affluent white family. Big Mike, played by Aaron Quinton, has an IQ of 80 and a grade point average of 0.6. He doesn't like to talk much and is homeless. On a rainy night, the Touhys take in Big Mike, and Leigh Ann, played by Bullock, sets about reinventing the gentle giant into a professional football player. Leigh Ann is a force of nature that cannot be stopped. She tackles Big Mike like a project. She helps him get his grades up, figures out a strategy to make him into a killer football player and doesn't flinch even when a nasty drug dealer threatens her. She does all this while raising two children, running an interior decoration business and sustaining a happy marriage and a seriously high-maintenance hair-do. At one point, I wondered: was this woman put on earth just to make the rest of us working mothers look bad.
I'll admit Sandra Bullock in ferocious mode is fun to watch. She's feisty and sexy and you'll cheer loudly when she tells the drug dealer that she packs a gun too. But none of this has a sliver of truth in it. Leigh Ann's angelic children have absolutely no issues with Big Mike moving in. Her rich husband smiles benignly in support. But the unkindest cut is that Big Mike seems more like a large pet than a person. He has sweet, affectionate eyes and is incredibly well- behaved. Big Mike's traumatic life has left zero scars. He has no anger or resentment in him and willingly does whatever Leigh Ann tells him to do.
Which makes for a cloyingly sentimental and politically dubious film.
Fans of sports and Sandra are likely to enjoy The Blind Side but the rest of us can just steer clear.