Note: This movie was viewed while on a plane--take that for what you will.
If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.
Make no bones about it, because it certainly does not: The Blind Side is very much a “feel good movie” of the highest order. On the one hand, it does weaken the film somewhat in a critical sense and in terms of the plot’s flow if only because every hurdle encountered is so easily and gleefully overcome by the protagonists that there is a definite lack of deep conflict or introspection. Also, given that the movie is based on a real and compelling story, it’s tough not to question how much is legit and how much has been punched up and simplified for Hollywood. On the other hand, like I said, this is not a piece that has any sense of denial about what it is and isn’t masquerading as high art—at least I didn’t get that sense—so if you choose to just sit back and enjoy as I did, you’ll find yourself getting engulfed in some good performances and a story that skips gleefully along, holding your attention with its whimsy.
Of course the most ballyhooed of those aforementioned performances is Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning turn as the fast-talking Memphis mom who brings a poor homeless black kid into her family. I enjoyed Bullock’s turn here tremendously and absolutely think she deserves the accolades she received; aside from the incredible energy she seems to effortlessly project, this role is such a departure from a lot of her stock characters, showing her range, but she also walks the delicate tight rope of portraying a strong, tough female lead who gets her way by being blunt and outspoken yet does not make her just another “bitch.” That you still find Bullock’s character likable through the rough exterior and bravado is an accomplishment worthy of being lauded.
However, Bullock does not do it alone, as her supporting cast was an extremely strong mix of talented young actors and seasoned pros willing to be in the background. Quinton Aaron as Michael, the boy taken in by the Tuohy family, is a tremendous find, an immediately endearing and sympathetic giant who does wonders just with how he chooses to carry his physique. Tim McGraw does a nice job of tethering Bullock’s Leigh Anne as her supportive and grounded husband Sean. Jae Head is also quite a scene-stealer as little SJ, the Tuohys’ young son, playing agent for his new “big brother” when college football scouts come calling. The only person I was a bit let down by was Kathy Bates, whose liberal tutor fell kind of flat, but that could also be simply because I expect so much from her (and her character did still provide McGraw with the opening for his great “Who’d have thought we’d have a black son before we knew a democrat” one-liner).
The Blind Side is a fun movie about issues that aren’t so fun with a good cast that seems to enjoy what they’re doing; I doubt it will change the world, but I don’t think it sets out to.