Are You Ready For Some Football? (On-screen?)

While the rest of the world gears up for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games beginning Friday (and shown on the combined networks of General Electric’s Comcast’s National Broadcasting Company, aka: ‘Please tell me why we bought this again?!’), we here at This Way To The Egress are still in football mode.  So, a review of the The Blind Side from 20th Century Fox and Alcon, with John Lee Hancock doing the helming and the typing from the Michael Lewis book.

I'll admit she's very good. In the movie, the movie!

The Blind Side, as everyone knows by now, is the heartwarming story of how the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, with Sandra Bullock delivering a surprisingly emotionally charged performance as Drew Brees.  Or something like that.  And this uplifting movie has garnered much press, made a bucket load of moolah, been the subject of ABC’s 20/20, garnered Sandra Bullock a Best Actress nomination (as well as an improbable Best Picture nomination for the producers), and was extremely well-like by two dear friends of the blog.

But here’s the thing:  It’s not a good movie.

Oh, sure, it’s uplifting (Hollywood’s favorite phrase ever.  Really, the only flick that’s truly uplifting is Up), and will probably make you choke up in the end, and no one can debate the mostly-true-life story is one to be celebrated, and Sandra Bullock does indeed give a performance that nothing in her background suggests she’s capable of (and she’ll probably win the Oscar, and that’ll be fine), but as a movie–  well, it’s just not good.

I'm in the money, I'm in the money!

Why?  It whitewashes what was a complex story in Lewis’ book (you expect me to believe there was so little strum and drang in the marriage between Bullock’s Lee Anee Tuohy and Tim McGraw’s Sean Tuohy when they, you know, invited an impoverished black kid to be their son?  That Sean always rolled his eyes in resigned exasperation and went back to trying to get nookie?) and turns it into an adult fairy-tale.  It sinfully omits plenty of moments that could provide the film with a stronger dramatic arc and moments of real conflict (the daughter and son were always hunky-dory?  No one felt short-changed in the parental-caring department?) in favor of crafting an ‘us-vs.-them’ story.  It blissfully glides over any discussion of the monetary fundamentals that allow the Tuohys to do the very admirable thing they did.  For instance, Sean Tuohy apparently made a fortune selling fast food, a scourge of the African-American obesity epidemic, but the irony (in the true sense of that word) or complexities are…  well, they’re not here.  And most unforgivably the film casts the world’s single most annoying child actor as the son.

I was trying to figure out why audiences have eaten up this film, but consistently reject (the far superior) NBC’s forever low-rated drama Friday Night Lights.  (Both feature their fair share of football, and both, coincidentally, have the underrated actress Kim Dickens.)  It seems to me it’s because the TV show tells audiences harsh truths about the economy, Southern life and football, while the film tells ’em pretty little lies on the way to a simple truth.  Finally, a super-hero story for adults!

Now, no doubt I shall be cast as a cynical film snob for these views (oh how I wish our dear old friend was still here to agree with me on this flick).  And had I caught this as a made-for-TV movie on cable late one night, perhaps I would’ve let some of the overly simplistic storytelling skate by.  But that’s not what this movie sells itself as; it’s sold itself as a legitimate Oscar contender (and in that sense I can do no better than quote Mark Harris, on the flick:  “It’s a groaner.”).  And what do I know?  Absolutely nothing, as we established in the beginning (moolah, Oscar nominations–  I should make a movie this not good.)  But the film is to me a little like the casting of Tim McGraw as the (in real life, quite overweight) Sean Tuohy:  The ugly truth probably would’ve made a better story.

Hmm, I look different. I've lost weight.

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