Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Blind Side: Review
The following review explains a lot of what I like about the movie, and thus might contain spoilers, but as it's a true story (or based on one) of a currently living, well-known individual, if you don't already know much of it, you're a little behind anyway.
Insight's Rules for adapting a true story for film:
1. Most viewers know how it turns out - that's not the interesting part, focus on how he or she arrived at the point everyone knows about.
2. If the end point is good, find whatever needed to be overcome to arrive at the good. If the end point is bad, focus on what good was lost to reach the bad. DON'T pretend something is good or bad if it isn't. To relate to audiences it has to be something EVERYONE knows to be good or bad, and not just in relative terms.
3. Very few things in life continue on an all up or all down path. Most stories are filled with ups and downs, make sure those count.
4. If you want people to like your movie and not just respect it, don't end a very sad story with a single moment of happiness, you have to prove to people that watching the whole sad story was worth it to them, and not just the real person who is now happy (I'm looking at you The Pursuit of Happyness).
The best movies based on true stories use these rules, but the stories they adapt for the screen have more than the sum of these parts, usually a main character worth caring about. The best movies have an entire cast you can find a reason to care about. Sandra Bullock's new movie, The Blind Side, is based on a true story of a young black boy, Michael Oher, in Memphis who has fallen through the cracks of his family, his community and the state, but has figured out a way to take care of himself. He's lucky enough to have a friend who helps him get into a private school, where he can barely be bothered with classes or sports. However, he isn't bitter or mean, he's just quiet and accepting of anything that comes his way, both good and bad. When he's spotted walking down the cold street at night, Sandra Bullock's Leigh Anne Touhy, brings him home for a warm place to sleep, without the realization that there are kids who attend her children's school who have nothing and no one to help them. His story is heartbreaking, both to Leigh Anne, and to the people watching it unfold. We watch as the Touhy's are changed by having Michael in their lives, and how his life is changed, even if he's still the same person he always was. It's a pretty funny movie as we watch Michael learn to play football, and Leigh Anne's tough love of the entire world as she struggles to be a good person. Sandra Bullock is terrific as a tough-ass southern woman making things happen. She takes life seriously, but knows that she is lucky to have everything she has, and is happy to have Michael in their lives. It's mostly their story, but her family, Tim McGraw as her husband, and her two kids, play a huge part of making a family that includes Michael. Of course, since Michael ends up playing for the Baltimore Ravens, there's a lot of football in the movie too. That is part of the ups and downs. While everyone assumes a big guy like Michael should be a natural at football, he takes a while to learn the basics, much to everyone's frustration, and amusement. Overall, this is a terrific movie, and obeys all my rules, so you leave feeling wonderful about life, even if you can't forget that it doesn't work out for everyone. 4.5 stars/lambs.
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