August 04, 2009
To my shame, I have not read The Blind Side, the bestselling book by the outrageously talented Michael Lewis chronicling the rise of Michael Oher from poverty-stricken childhood to raw but drooled-over recruit to All-American offensive tackle at Ole Miss. (And now, since the book was published, to first round pick by the Baltimore Ravens.) So although I respect Lewis and I'm sure the book is great -- I gave it as a gift to my dad, and he loved it -- I have no special feeling for its story or characters. In other words, I can handle what I'm about to show you.
But if you did read Lewis' book, and especially if you liked Lewis' book, I'm going to advise you to do something I never would under normal circumstances: Click away. Or at least skip this post. Whatever you do, don't hit 'play' on the trailer below. I'm sure you're curious to see how Hollywood treated the master prose and storytelling of the best college football book of the decade. I know you've read about the numerous cameos and must have at least contemplated seeing this movie, if for nothing else but the magisterial on-screen splendor of Ed Orgeron. I say to you: Don't do it. Just ... don't do it. Let the book live on in your head as the solid piece of work you remember.
I had especially low expectations for this from the words "Sandra Bullock" and "Hollywood." (Which is saying a lot since, as a football fan, the only football movie I have ever remotely liked, ever, is All the Right Moves.) And yet this fails in so many more ways than anyone could ever possibly predict, even if they've seen every excruciating scene in every bad sports movie of the last 25 years. Somehow, The Blind Side: The Movie seems to be embracing all of them at once. By all indications, it's another by-the-numbers romp through clichéd taglines, bad emo music, annoyingly precocious children, latent racism, paternalistic guilt, forced feel-good montages, and tight, slo-mo pancake shots on helpless ninth graders wherein Oher is reduced to a wide-eyed naif whose potential can only be tapped when his surrogate mom -- not a front-and-center character in the book -- drops the suburban gloss for a little Dangerous Minds 'tude, puts the project thugs in their place and comes out of the stands to bawl out her 300-pound charge in front of the entire team. (I assume the coaches wouldn't dare.) My only question is how they'll devise a way for Big Mike to score the winning touchdown in the big game. Tackle eligible? Followed by some members of the team comically attempting to lift the man-child on their shoulders before settling for a congratulatory slap on the butt? And that's a wrap.
I mean, it's a thinly veiled chick flick. I'm sure they could cut it up to make a rocking, action-paced trailer for football fans, but we've seen its stripes, and they belong on a Prada handbag.
Which will certainly sell more tickets than the central insights on the evolution of the passing game and the emerging importance of the left tackle in scouting that gave the book its title. And at least Bullock's Mississippi accent isn't a total embarrassment. But no matter what happens to Alabama this fall, his association with this movie is destined to be the most embarrassing moment of Nick Saban's year.