The Blind Side
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Written by: John Lee Hancock (screenplay), Michael Lewis (novel)
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, and Kathy Bates
Good wholesome Southerners have their movie to cheer for this year at the Academy Awards. John Lee Hancock’s bombastic, preachy and watered down The Blind Side is the one movie nominated for Best Picture this year that didn’t deserve its slot.
This is the crowd-pleasing, melodramatic sports movie that moved both the Monday Night Football crowd and Sarah Palin wannabes to tears. It also moved serious film critics to tears, but not for the same reasons. Hancock directs this film with a style right out of the sports film playbook, taking no chances and milking every crowd-pleasing scenario for maximum fluff.
“Sandra Bullock in a football movie,” is a great selling point for studio executives. In order to sabotage and exploit an audience’s emotions, you need a marketable lead. In the year 2009, there was no one more marketable (or undeserving of their profits) than her. Her Oscar nomination (and likely win) for playing Leigh Ann Tuohy is the result of a frivolous, cooly calculated business decision. Though her performance is the reluctant highlight of this film, it is by no means anything more than her spouting off clever one liners with a Southern accent. Bullock plays emotional-yet-controlled in almost all of her films, and never that greatly. She does the same thing here, but with a drawl so it’s Oscar worthy.
The rest of the cast is nothing to write home about. Tim McGraw, no doubt another Midwestern selling point, plays Sean Tuohy, the obedient patriarch of the family. As Michael Oher, the impoverished African American they choose to take in, Quinton Aaron plays the strong, silent type surprisingly well. As the rest of the Tuohy family, Jae Head and Lily Collins play devoted stereotypes with the usual verve and boring charm.
The nuclear family is something important to Hancock and his movie. The staunchly Christian message doesn’t allow for anything above a PG-13 rating. “Did you ever think we’d have a black son before we knew a Democrat,” spouts Sean to his wife as they watch Kathy Bates (in the movie’s only non-pandering performance) tutor their son.
The traditions assumed in this film are those of a sexist nature. Sandra mouths off, but she still knows her place is in the kitchen and the real decisions outside of interior decorating rest on her husband’s shoulders. Such is the embodiment of the Southern Plantation myth in John Lee Hooker’s abysmal vision.