Monday, December 14, 2009

Color Me Blind-sided

Very simply, I liked The Blind Side. The film's continuing box-office success is not surprising; the movie is a likable, easy-to-watch movie that can make the whole family feel good. Sure, that last line sounds like standard quote-whoring, but that's the kind of movie this is. It's the rare movie that proves the standard advertising one-liners true.

Lots of buzz has surrounded Sandra Bullock's performance, and it's all true. The real-life Leigh-Anne Tuohy must exude a lot of spunk, but Bullock turns her into a mythic screen creation, one of those great movie-star performances that every star wishes they had the oppotunity to sink their teeth into. For Bullock, this is one of her career highs, and to her credit she doesn't settle for just the "big, sassy" moments that we see in the trailer. She works the material to reach much quieter, more observant beats that one wouldn't expect after watching the trailer 300 times, bringing more depth to a traditional show-off role as a result.

The story is familiar: an upper class Tennessee family takes in a poor, uneducated, 350-pound kid from the inner city whose past is painful but whose size and protective instincts make him a natural football player. Over time, the young man learns the values of love and family, and strives to improve both as an athlete and a student, eventually becoming one of the High School football's best players. We've seen these inspirational stories before, but this one is true: based on Michael Lewis' nonfiction book, and inspired by the story of Michael Oher, who now starts for the Baltimore Ravens. The film shifts the story's focus to Oher's adoptive mother, Leigh-Anne Tuohy, in so doing retaining a lovable hero but also elevating a fascinating heroine to the forefront, and telling an unconventional mother-son story that really works.

The Blind Side was written for the screen and directed by John Lee Hancock, who has developed a career that has been consistently solid. His work isn't world-changing and is often conventionally heart-tugging, but he can always deliver an enjoyable experience. This film fits into that mold perfectly -- imperfect, conventional filmmaking, but infused with great acting and true-to-life inspiration that truly inspires.

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