2010-02-26 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

‘The Blind Side’ – Bullock’s Burden
By Robert Snyder

Having won the Golden Globe and other awards, actress Sandra Bullock has the formidable task of unseating heavy hitter Meryl Streep from her favored “Julie & Julia” Oscar perch.

However, “The Blind Side” featuring Bullock as Southern philanthropic powerhouse Leigh Anne Tuohy is the word-of-mouth underdog of the year. At one point, it even beat out the vampire sequel, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” for the box office top spot.

From the book by Michael Lewis, “The Blind Side” is the true story of the improbable discovery of pro-football player, Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens. Strangely and coincidently similar to “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” “Blind Side” also has an overweight African-American teenager getting a major selfesteem boost and a propulsion out of the drug-infested Projects.

In addition, Bullock’s film makes a bizarre nod to the 1998 Adam Sandler sports comedy, “The Waterboy.” Both movies co-star Kathy Bates and have the football prodigy tapping into his inner rage and protective instincts as motivation to smash the opposition.

Written and directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Alamo”). “Blind Side’s” saving grace is its heart of gold as personified by Oher (Quinton Aaron) and reinforced by his sweet white angel, Leigh Anne, a wealthy Memphis decorator, who literally picks up Michael off the street and includes him in her family. At first, Michael seems like a pet charity for Leigh Anne. Enrolled in an almost all-white Christian private school, he is prodded by her and Coach Cotton (Ray McKinnon) to play football. Michael’s soft heart is soon hardened when Leigh Anne programs him to pretend his teammates are family members he must defend.

In one comic moment, he steamrolls one obnoxious opponent across the field and into the stands. Steamrolling is what Bullock is doing throughout the film. She may push Streep into the stands at Oscar time.

“Blind Side” plays for the most part as a heartfelt Disneyesque comedy with amateurish acting buoyed by Bullock’s impressive professionalism.

A serious turn is taken when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (N.C.A.A.) makes a case that the Tuohys and Coach Cotton are unethical in their creation of ringer to place in their preferred college, which happens to be Leigh Anne’s alma mater, University of Mississippi. In real life, such charges were, in fact, made.

But, the big hurt is the wedge of mistrust, which erupts between Michael and his adoptive mother, which almost sends him permanently back to the Projects, where sleazy drug dealers lie in wait.

Soon, all is forgiven and “The Blind Side” is back on its kindly course, It’s a course that led to the Academy Awards and the potential steamrolling of Streep.

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