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STUDIO: Warner Brothers
RUNNING TIME: 128 minutes
A rather large teenager smashes people. White lady adopts him. NFL takes notice.
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Written by John Lee Hancock
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Kathy Bates and Kim Dickens
There’s some things about White America that I still don’t get. Having been a Caucasian for the past 28 years, you would’ve figured that a lot of this shit would just fall into my lap. Every couple of years, a film comes along that makes Middle America stand up and pay a first-run theatrical premium. They talk to their friends and make recommendations to children that don’t care. Yet, they were able to get this movie to break 250 million and score a Best Picture nomination.
I read more non-fiction than I really should. Thus, I often pick up a lot of shit feel-good books about people and things I don’t care about. I first read The Blind Side about a year ago. I quickly dismissed it as being another rags to riches book about a football player on a team that I hated. Yeah, I’m not a Ravens fan. Deal with it.
The Blind Side was quickly picked up and developed into a Julia Roberts vehicle at Warner Brothers. Roberts passed and the film slowly grew. Underrated writer/director John Lee Hancock was charged with hammering out a script and doing the thankless job of directing what was going to be a mainstream soft lob. Football films attract a certain dose of sentimentality and goodwill from the average American. But, things went to the next level with Sandra Bullock taking the lead.
L.T. wants to watch your Blind Side…forever.
The Blind Side was turned into a Sandra Bullock vehicle for one reason. It’s easy material to get attention in what was shaping up to be a lackluster Awards year. There was no other reason to attach Ms. Bullock to the project other than to gleam an easy Oscar win for Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers had been having a dry spell with their leading ladies for some time. Outside of Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton, name a recent WB Actress Oscar win.
To those that don’t follow football, everything has been carefully laid out before you. Sandra Bullock uses archival footage of the game to explain the importance of the left tackle. Using the Lawrence Taylor takedown of Joe Theismann in 1985, we see why the position is so important. Cut to a few years ago, where we find young Michael Oher trying to find his way in the world. Taken from his addict mother as a child, he had been bounced around various homes for most of his life. That’s when Leigh Anne Tuohy finds him and rebuilds his life.
Not everybody has a good Forrest Whitaker impersonation.
Michael Oher is portrayed as a blank canvas in which the caucasian matron Tuohy can remake a young life. He doesn’t speak unless spoken to by a person of authority. He’s too scared to express himself or act out. He exists to make Sandra Bullock’s character seem like a better person. The last person to so bravely tackle the issue was Richard Donner in his seminal comedy The Toy. That film also took place in Atlanta, but I don’t believe Richard Pryor would’ve made an effective left tackle. However, the kid did porn.
What has impressed me so much about the movie is how it’s become a beacon for the Pop Conservatism movement. Pop Cons are the easier-going cousins of the Neo Cons who spent the last decade running the country into the shitter. They use Christianity as a social crutch to climb social ladders and to support any crazy decisions they make. The tinges of slight racism are hidden in most of their actions, while never being the underlying motive. I believe that Leigh Anne Tuohy meant well by providing for Big Mike. It’s just that the whole situation smacks of magical negro syndrome.
It’s the Village People for the CBS crowd.
When you get to the backbone of the film, there’s a real heart and spirit. Hancock wants you to look past the fact that Big Mike is portrayed as a near-mute black kid who don’t nothing about learning. He wants you to look past Bullock’s portrayal of the Neo-Southern maven. Hancock, Warner Brothers and the various production runners want you to see this as GO FOOTBALL GO! Hopefully, you can find something in-between.
John Lee Hancock is an excellent director/writer, so I hope that the sheer oddity of the film isn’t lost on him. While trying to make a film about the heart of football, you created a rather fucked-up statement on modern race relations. White people might not being turn hoses on the youth of Alabama anymore, but we’ve slipped back into this second-gen minstrel entertainment. A young black man that is shown as being lost without a white woman guiding him. Eventually, she pushes him off through connections to the college level and then to the NFL. There, Mike gets to entertain the wealthier masses on any given Sunday. Stats show that those audiences are almost 70% white and spent more money than Big Mike would’ve made in a week without Leigh Anne’s intervention.
Now, hun…what we do is drive around and try to get into a wreck. Then, when those people are all squirming and dying. We have sex. My good friend Charlene turned me onto this. It was a documentary called Crash. The one about the car wrecks, not the one about learning to like ethnics.
While I won’t call this a terrible movie, I still can’t figure out the Best Picture nomination. Pulling off the Grand Hotel two-fer, we had a picture that nailed down an Actress win and a Best Pic nomination. Some people blamed a wider nomination field for Picture for the inclusion. But, that would discount other films that were deserving of the recognition but couldn’t attract the industry love that Bullock receives.
Warner Brothers has discovered something in the past year. If you kill any new releases at Netflix for a month. If you straddle a two week window with Redbox units, then people will have to buy discs. Heaven forbid if you load what’s going to be a monster hit with special features. People love blowing top dollar on what amounts to a movie that they already paid too much for at the theatrical level.
The handful of additional scenes on the DVD are a small pittance. The Blu-Ray receives an exclusive digital copy, several featurettes and a look at the real Big Mike. It’s almost like Warner Brothers is trying to tell your broke ass something. Get a Blu-Ray player and see Sandra Bullock in 1080p. Marvel at the fact that it’s been fifteen years since Speed.
I know, Charlene. They’ve got a place downtown where they round the poor up and give them money for being unemployed. This shit is why I joined the Tea Party.