So, this is the film that won Sandra Bullock an Oscar, just days after she ‘won’ the Razzie for worst actress as well – but did she deserve to win, as with this being the first female-lead film to break $200 million in the US, it could be argued that it was inevitable that she was going to be rewarded with the Oscar regardless of how good her performance actually was.
Based on the inspirational true story of American Footballer Michael Oher, who went from incredibly poor beginnings to fame and fortune thanks both to his large frame and the hospitality of wealthy sports-obssessed family. Bullock plays matriarch Leigh Anne Tuohy, who’s straight-talking manner and sharp insights enable her to badger, cajoule and terrorise every man in her path – from her former basketball star husband, to the high school sports coach, and even local gang members – to ensure that her adopted son can fulfil his potential.
Although it’s an inspirational story, it really doesn’t make for a good film, largely because of the characterisation. Bullock is enjoyable but her character is permanently stuck on ’sassy’ and her family are either invisible, such as her husband and daughter, or in the case of her young son Sean Jr incredibly irritating – it’s hard to imagine that the character bears any relation to his real-life counterpart, played as he is by the type of supposedly-cute, precocious child that only seems to exist in Hollywood movies. Worst of all however is the portrayal of Michael, who with his large lumbering frame and permanently confused expression, could easily be replaced with a sack of potatoes with a frowny-face drawn on it. Generally the portrayal of race in the film is troublesome, as despite the film making lip-service to the issues raised (one of Leigh Anne’s wealthy friends asks as to whether her adopting Michael is ‘a white guilt thing?’), the black characters fit into the usual stereotypes of the big-hearted man-child, violent gang members, and put-upon public servants.
The film also has absolutely no sense of drama – late on a meddling administrator is brought in to create conflict by questioning the Twouy’s real motives behind their support of Michael, but this is all sorted out in a matter of minutes. Despite a few sharp lines and a likeable – but not award-worthy – turn by Bullock, it’s likely that The Blind Side was only so successful in America as with its inspirational sporting story and mostly Christian, Republican characters, the film appealed to the section of middle America who feel underserved by most drama coming out of Hollywood.