Sports-drama 'The Blind Side' is a feel-good tale of one man's triumph over adversity. This all-American story has proven to be a big hit in the US, but it's vaguely nauseating tone, predictability and over-sincerity might limit its appeal on this side of the water.
Based on the true story of American football player Michael Oher, the film follows him from his impoverished upbringings, to graduating university and a successful sports career. Michael, or Big Mike as he's referred to, had a troubled childhood. Born to a drug-addict mother, he grew up in a line of foster homes, eventually ending up on the streets. He realises his potential through the help of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a well-off interior designer, who brings him into her family home, feeds and clothes him and encourages his natural sporting talents.
Sandra Bullock plays the role of Leigh Anne, for which she earned a Best Actress statuette at this year's Oscars. She's a straight-talking, fervently Christian, Southern lady with a heart of gold and a sassy attitude, and although this doesn't feel like an Oscar-deserving performance, it certainly provides the backbone of an otherwise quite ordinary film.
Quinton Aaron doesn't have much to work with as the movie's other leading presence, Big Mike. Although Mike is an uncommunicative and repressed character, it is impossible to gauge what he is feeling about any of the things that are happening to him. Tim McGraw fares well as Sean, Leigh Anne's likeable, if a bit of a pushover, husband. Leigh Anne's young son SJ (Head) unfortunately often crosses the line from cutesy child actor to just plain irritating.
Humour is scarce on the ground; the most memorable moment follows the appointment of Big Mike's new tutor, a liberal Democrat (Bates), when Sean wonders aloud: “Who would have thought we'd have a black son before we knew a Democrat?”
Overall, 'The Blind Side' aims to be uplifting rather than amusing, and if you leave your cynicism at the door you are sure to be moved. Despite the glossy treatment of some of the more harrowing material at hand, the lack of character depth and the predictability, this film means well and its positive message is hard to resist.