May Better Things Come Your Way

Sandra Bullock seems like a lovely woman. I think if I met her, I’d like her. Because I do like her. But she’s not the first person I’d think of when I think of great actresses. I don’t mean that she’s bad — I’d rather watch her than Cameron Diaz, for example. I’ve enjoyed Bullock over the years — in Speed and While You Were Sleeping and Miss Congeniality. I guess I’m guilty of pigeonholing her; for me, she’s a more appealing Meg Ryan. So when The Blind Side trailer first appeared on my movie screen, I rolled my eyes and assumed that this was Bullock’s Erin Brockovich role — the part that she took to be taken more seriously in Hollywood and which would possibly garner her an Academy Award the way that Brockovich did for Pretty Woman Julia Roberts.

In a way, I was right.

Except I don’t think that Bullock took the role of Leigh Ann Tuohy, a rich Southern woman who takes in a black teenage boy and nurtures and loves him while he becomes a football star, with the intention of winning awards. Sandra Bullock does not seem to have a manipulative bone in her body.

Which is why, although The Blind Side is a glorified Lifetime movie-of-the-week, I cannot bring myself to disparage Bullock winning an Academy Award for her performance, despite her competitors including the legendary Meryl Streep, (Julie & Julia),  the luminous Carey Mulligan (An Education), the effortless Helen Mirren (The Last Station) and the adorable Gabourey Sidibe (Precious).  At the end of the day, the Oscars are little more than a popularity contest anyway. And given The Blind Side‘s box office and Bullock’s charm, her win did not come as a surprise.

But back to the movie, although there is little to say about it. Quinton Aaron plays Michael Oher, a teenager who has been shuttled from foster home to foster home after being removed from the care of his drug addicted mother. He has also slipped through the cracks of the education system and has tested so poorly on assessments that everyone has given up on him. Everyone except Leigh Ann Tuohy, her husband, Sean (played by country superstar Tim McGraw) and their children S. J. (Jae Head) and Collins (Lilly Collins). The Tuohys are a wealthy family with a sports pedigree and Michael soon flourishes under their care. He becomes a football player, and of course, a star.

This is the problem that I have with The Blind Side. Yes, it may be  based on a true story, but it just seems too easy. There is no conflict. The family happily accepts Michael and Michael accepts the family. Michael’s biological mother easily lets him go, Michael never deals with his past.

And it was… boring. Bullock’s performance is strong, but had this not been based on an inspirational true story and had it not done well in theatres, I’m not sure we would be talking about Sandra Bullock, Oscar winner. I don’t mean to take anything away from her — as I said, I think she’s a very nice woman. I just wish that she’d been in a better movie.


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