This was supposed to be the movie that changed everything.
Sandra Bullock, the critics crowed, is a changed woman. Her Oscar-nominated performance in The Blind Side was supposed to prove she wasn’t what many of us always suspected – a poorly programmed actor-emulating robot sent down from planet Ditsy to terrorise mankind with Miss Congeniality 1 and 2.
The Blind Side was supposed to demonstrate a remarkable turnaround for Bullock – her phone booth transformation from a cosmeticised oxygen-stealing lolly water type to an artiste of considerable craft and substance.
Yeah, this film was supposed to be a lot of things.
But in the cold light of day – or more accurately, the darkened carpet-splodged popcorn-scented cinema of your local multiplex – the truth is there for everybody to see, and it ain’t pretty.
Make no mistake: Bullock’s performance in director John Lee Hancock’s The Blind Side is undoubtedly one of the worst ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. Expectant viewers will wait for the “good” or “dramatic” scene. The scene where you can kind of understand what all this Oscar fuss is about, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. It never arrives.
For the record: yes, it’s true that Bullock’s performance as a holier-than-though goody two shoes in this cheesy tissue box drama is considerably better than anything else she’s done. But that’s like saying a punch in the face is considerably better than a chainsaw in the groin. It may be true, but you wouldn’t ask for either.
There are the bones of a good story here but the screenplay, based loosely on real events, constantly overshoots the mark, emphasising and double-underlining the significance of every dramatic event, and the dialogue is excruciatingly fake and saccharine.
A thoroughly decent and largely understated central performance from Quinton Aaron as the protagonist – football star-to-be Michael – is all but buried by the bleeding simplicity of the other characters and Bullock’s irritating presence. For a while (at least the opening act) Aaron hangs the story loosely together, giving it a degree of cred as a lightweight heart-in-the-right place drama but the second and third act sends the film hurtling uncontrollably towards clumsy dramatics and vomit bad sentimentality.
Michael is a homeless and obese African American teenager who barely says a word at his new school. He is presumed to be of low intelligence but we – plus one quintessentially cinematic you-can-do-it! teacher – know better.
One night walking in the rain, the Touhy family – led by ball-breaking matriarch Leigh Anne (Bullock) – pick Michael up and offer him a couch for the night. Soon he is an adopted member of the family and a prospective star on the football team.
Out to lunch with her hoity toity chardonnay-sipping buddies, who look like they flunked the audition for Desperate Housewives, Leigh Anne is given a hard time about bringing a large back man into her home. One of her friends comes to her rescue: “you changed his life,” she says. “No,” Leigh Anne replies. “He changed ours.”
And that is just the beginning of the retch-a-rific cheesiness in store for viewers in a movie that attempts to give the allusion of literary depth via the incorporation of a children’s picture book – Ferdinand the Bull. By the end that line feels like the height of subtle nuanced dialogue.
Expect every cheese element in the playbook book whipped up with delivered poker-faced sobriety: a training montage, a flashback montage, a life lessons voice over, coming-from-behind on-field sports moments, hall mark dialogue, you name it.
The final shot of Sandra Bullock, looking car salesman smug (we assume this is the moment she realised the film stood a chance at being marginally better received than Speed 2: Cruise Control) will frighten small children.
But the real horror – the thought that Bullock might actually win an Oscar for this dross – is reserved for the adults.
Bullocks

The Blind SideRed lightThis was supposed to be the movie that changed everything.

Sandra Bullock, the critics crowed, is a new woman. Her Oscar-nominated performance in The Blind Side was supposed to prove she wasn’t what many of us always suspected – a poorly programmed actor-emulating robot sent down from planet Ditsy to terrorise mankind with Miss Congeniality 1 and 2.

The Blind Side was supposed to demonstrate a remarkable turnaround for Bullock – her phone booth transformation from a cosmeticised oxygen-stealing lolly water type to an artiste of considerable craft and substance.

But in the cold light of day – or more accurately, the darkened carpet-splodged popcorn-scented cinema of your local multiplex – the truth is there for everybody to see, and it ain’t pretty.

Make no mistake: Bullock’s performance in director John Lee Hancock’s The Blind Side is one of the worst ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. Hopeful viewers will wait for the “good” or “dramatic” scene. The scene where you can kind of understand what all this Oscar fuss is about, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. It never arrives.

For the record, Bullock’s performance as a holier-than-thou goody two shoes in this cheesy tissue box drama is considerably better than anything else she’s done. But that’s like saying a punch in the face is considerably better than a chainsaw in the groin. It may be true, but you wouldn’t ask for either.

There are the bones of a good story here but the screenplay, based loosely on real events and adapted from a book by Michael Lewis, constantly overshoots the mark, double-underlining the significance of every dramatic event, and the dialogue is excruciatingly fake and saccharine.

A thoroughly decent and largely understated central performance from Quinton Aaron as the protagonist, football star-to-be Michael Oher, is all but buried by the bleeding simplicity of the other characters and Bullock’s irritating presence. For a while (at least the opening act) Aaron hangs the story loosely together, giving it a degree of cred as a lightweight heart-in-the-right place drama but the second and third act sends the film hurtling uncontrollably towards clumsy histrionics and vomit bad sentimentality.

Michael is a homeless and obese African American teenager who barely says a word at his new school. He is presumed to be of low intelligence but we – plus one cookie cutter inspirational you-can-do-it! teacher – know better.

One night walking in the rain, the Touhy family – led by ball-breaking matriarch Leigh Anne (Bullock) – pick Michael up and offer him a couch for the night. Soon he is an adopted member of the family and a prospective star on the football team.

Out to lunch with her hoity toity chardonnay-sipping buddies, who all look like they flunked the audition for Desperate Housewives, Leigh Anne is given a hard time about bringing a large back man into her home. One of her friends comes to her rescue, remarking that she’s changed “the boys” life. “No,” Leigh Anne replies. “He’s changing mine.”

And that is just the beginning of the retch-a-rific cheesiness in store for viewers in a movie that attempts to give the illusion of literary depth via the incorporation of a children’s picture book – Ferdinand the Bull. By the end that line feels like the height of subtle nuanced dialogue.

Expect every cheesy element in the cook book whipped up and delivered with embarrassing earnestness: a training montage, a flashback montage, a life lessons voice over, coming-from-behind on-field sports moments, soppy dialogue, you name it.

The final shot of Sandra Bullock, looking car salesman smug (we assume this is the moment she realised the film stood a chance at being marginally better received than Speed 2: Cruise Control) will frighten small children.

But the real horror – the thought that Bullock might actually win an Academy Award for this dross – is reserved for the adults.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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