Movie Debate: THE BLIND SIDE
It’s the return of PCN vs. EE. Every once in a while, I post a Siskel & Ebert-style movie review instead of a traditional one when my occasional movie partner, Eric Edwards, disagrees with my take on something.
We recently attended a screening of Sandra Bullock’s upcoming movie, The Blind Side (opening Nov. 20), based on the true story of Michael Oher, an African-American teen with a mother addicted to crack who bounced through the foster care system before he was taken in by a Memphis family, the Tuohys. He eventually went to college and became a star NFL player with the Baltimore Ravens.
After the screening, Eric and I had the following discussion.
PCN: What didn’t you like about it? It stars our girl, Sandra Bullock!
EE: Sandra Bullock is the best thing about it. Take her out of the movie and you’ve got something that should be a Lifetime movie of the week.
PCN: Yeah, but it does have Bullock and she elevates the material like she usually does. You can’t judge it on what it might have been.
EE: Okay, but you must admit the movie’s very safe. The stakes are never very high and no matter what Michael does, there are no repercussions. Also, we hear there are issues at school but we never get to see any of it. He may have had a rough past but once the family takes him in, everything works out and he’s beloved by everyone.
PCN: You’re right, the movie doesn’t break any new ground. But since there are supposedly only seven original ideas in Hollywood, I look at the execution. Bullock’s performance as Leigh Anne is quite engaging and there are some funny moments. The Proposal wasn’t an original concept, either, but Bullock made that watchable.
EE: But she only brings to life her role. She can’t carry the whole movie and whenever she’s not on screen, the movie drags.
PCN: I thought Quinton Aaron did a nice job as Michael. He’s got such sad eyes and a gentle soul, which make for an interesting contrast with his intimidating size. Aaron hasn’t done much film work but he kept up with Bullock.
EE: I think the director told him that less is more and that’s what he did. He let his eyes do most of the acting and he’s got great eyes.
PCN: The casting of Tim McGraw was curious. He turned in a good enough performance as Leigh Anne’s husband, but I was thinking, How come they had to get a country singer for this role? There weren’t any qualified actors who could have played that?
EE: I agree, and there’s no arc for that character at all. He’s pretty much written as one-note all the way through. The only justification I could think of for casting him is that it’s set in Memphis and he’s a country star.
PCN: Yeah, but this movie is opening nationwide, not just in Memphis.
EE: But country music is huge and maybe they’re going after those fans, to give the film any kind of advantage possible. I maintain, though, it’s not worthy of the big screen. It’s a nice family movie with very little drama and low stakes.
PCN: How about looking at is as a character study instead of a plot-driven piece? You didn’t find these people compelling?
EE: The problem is, the strongest character is Bullock’s, but the movie isn’t about her. It’s about Michael and he’s not that interesting.
PCN: He’s a kid from a really rough childhood who makes good in the NFL!
EE: But we only get tiny glimpses of his childhood in flashback. It’s not enough to make me care. The story mostly deals with him living with the Tuohys, where it’s pretty much smooth sailing.
PCN: I know where you’re coming from; normally I’d be making the same arguments you are. This time, though, I recognized the movie’s flaws but went with it anyway because I was rooting for Michael and thought the Tuohys were pretty cool for what they did. Maybe I just have a soft spot for true stories about kids overcoming adversity to achieve great things.
EE: It’s not a horrible movie but I’d still recommend waiting for the DVD.
Nerd verdicts—PCN: An enjoyable Side show, EE: Movie turns Blind eye to conflict