Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates
Director: John Lee Hancock
I remember seeing the trailer for this movie on a sports blog I read and thinking to myself: "Oh, this seems like a tired, clichéd, true-story drama that will probably make $40 million at the box office." Boy, I was wrong. And I finally got down to seeing this one (it's on the Oscar list! Damn you Academy, for trying to draw in mainstream America!) and it's just as bad, if not worse, than what I expected.
Sandra Bullock, in her Oscar-winning (Really? Oh brother, this win is so staggeringly baffling that it would take another blog post to articulate how much I loathe her performance) role, plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a real southern firecracker who does her duty as a human being and offers home and family to a lonely and lost boy. Now mix in a little bit of race issues and slap "true story" on the poster and apparently that's enough for America to consider it one of the best movies ever.
I find myself in the minority on this one and I've actually argued with people who consider this a great movie, one that deserves all the accolades. And you know what? Most people's main argument after I tell them my feelings on the movie? "Well, it's based on a true story - it's pretty amazing!" That's the best they could come up with?
The movie is all candy coating and no substance. I've heard the book is really, really good and it's from Michael Oher's viewpoint. The movie, instead, takes the general idea of a rich, white Christian family going against the grain and adopting a poor black boy and turns the whole movie into this central theme. It's a bit sickening to be manipulated like this, especially when you know you're being manipulated. Like when the movie only portrays Oher as a near-mute bumbling idiot. Yeah, he's shy, but he's so shy he can't talk? And he's so completely baffled by an enormous house and white people and their Christian schools that it renders him speechless? Seriously, the dude does not talk until that last thirty minutes! And when Bullock mentions how the boy is changing her life - where's the evidence? She's a completely nice person throughout the movie and doesn't change at all. She just has one more person to love and take care of.
I just absolutely hated the movie - it takes a wonderful story about someone making a change in their life, albeit with help from a loving family, and turns it into all glitzy, feel-good schlock. And for those that claim this is a sports movie, it is not. This movie has maybe one scene on the gridiron and that's not even the focus of that scene. I thought Bullock's performance was okay - she seemed to put on a thick southern accent and walk around like a robot sometimes, nothing too special about it. The movie takes place in the south, so of course Kathy Bates has to show up and drag the movie down even further with her PG-version of Adam Sandler's mom in Waterboy (that foosball is the devil!). There's not even any real drama or tension in the movie! The family seems to accept Oher without any hesitation and there's a brief scene with her ritzy, Stepford wife friends that casually throws out the whole class issue, but it's glossed over.
And talk about long! This movie was over two hours! Granted, it went by fairly quickly, but sheesh! This movie did not have to be that long - it's an amazing true story and the fact that so much of the real drama was simply swept under the rug, says a lot about this movie. If you want to feel good about yourself and the world, this is good distraction from the it, despite what people persist and what the movie poster says. I would not recommend this to anyone and I'm sure in ten years or so we'll all feel really silly about how much love this movie got.