This evening, after stomaching enough Turkey and pumpkin (honestly, a useless plant 10 months out of the year or so) as is possible in my 5'10", 175lb frame and watching the Dallas Cowboys listlessly give the Oakland Raiders their what's for, I joined Whiskey Wednesday for a night at the movies.
Yeah. We saw the Blind Side together. What? Why, that's not weird at all, sir. No, there weren't any girls with us. I mean, it's Thanksgiving and we are both from the same town so we decided to enjoy a film together.
Alright, seriously, I wish you'd stop looking at me like that.
Shit. You know what, get out. Go away....
Is he gone? Ok, good.
So, like my blogging compatriot One Man To Beat did earlier this week, I too will be sharing my thoughts and observations on the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. I will try to avoid redundancies.
First, let me get the obligatory "OH WOW SANDRA BULLOCK MILFAROOSKI" out of the way. Ready? OH WOW SANDRA BULLOCK MILFAROOSKI! Alright, good. Moving on.
Next, for those lamenting the loose-ish adaptation of Michael Lewis' book: get over it. Honestly, when you heard "Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw starring in a film adaptation of The Blind Side," what did you want? A documentary on the intricacies of pass blocking, the impact a man like Lawrence Taylor can have on an entire sport, and the evolution of football? An entirely Oher-centric, accurate to the word depiction of the former Rebel All-American's life? Anything aside from "lilywhite Sandra Bullock rescues a poor black child from the ghetto and transforms him into something phenomenal, all while transforming herself in a cutesy story which really makes us take a passing glance at the society we live in?"
Well, if so, you're ridiculous. Hollywood does shit like this all of the time. This isn't new to you.
Now, about the actual movie itself: I liked it. I doubt I'll see it again. And I'm certain I'll steer clear of the DVD. But I liked it. It was about football, and I like that. It was good PR for Ole Miss which, let's be frank, is something we could stand to gain some more of. And, in a moment of weakness, it made me feel good.
I really liked how, while every drop of the movie was filmed in Atlanta, they made sure to name drop Memphis, Shelby County, different neighborhoods, streets, et cetera to the point that anyone who, like yours truly, even has a casual knowledge of the Memphis area could appreciate the effort they took. They paid good enough attention to detail for me to give them a pass for lazily dumping "generic campus scene filmed at Georgia Tech" off on us as "Ole Miss."
Of course, the parts which everyone--I say everyone assuming that everyone is an SEC fan or, at the very least, a die-hard NCAA ball fans--loves are the 'crootin scenes. Seeing Nick Saban in an LSU tie, Tommy Tuberville in an Auburn shirt, Phillip Fulmer in a Tennessee cap, and Lou Holtz made me laugh. Not only were their performances surprisingly good, albeit goofy, but the reminder as to just how vicious and inbred the SEC coaching fraternity has become was humorous. The scene in which Leigh Anne Tuohy greets then-Razorback coach Houston Nutt at the door to her home, while drinking something out of an Ole Miss cup, was pretty fantastic as well. Not only did Coach Nutt talk all about the Razorbacks (dialogue which undoubtedly drove some folks in the Natural State up the fucking wall), but he looked down at Leigh Anne's cup, CRAZYFACED, and said "Ole Miss cup, huh?"
The scenes with Orgeron were, naturally, horrible. This is because he's an intelligible ogre whose facial expressions switch amongst exuberant, enraged, and enthralled more-or-less at will. There were bits where WW and I would just sorta shrug our shoulders when O said anything. I mean, Hollywood, you do take multiple shots and give your actors plenty of time to get it right, don't you? Well then how is Ed Orgeron still unintelligible under these circumstances? Why haven't scientists been working on this?
I also found it a bit odd as to how Orgeron's recruiting pitch was all about food. He gave B's Barbecue some love, though without actually using the words "B's Barbecue." He said something about how "you can get the best barbecue in the world from a gas station in Oxford" or some damn thing. He then garbled about catfish and football practice and made a goofy face. No wonder this guy recruited defensive linemen so well.
Hey, large impoverished 17-year-old male with an ungodly need for calories, how would you like to come to a town where all you do is eat greasy food and drink beer? Oh, and there are hot chicks who will do you?
See? Recruiting ain't so tough.
Yes, there are some very ridiculous elements to the movie. The scene where Oher disarms a bunch of pistol-wielding thugs in a Memphis project by pushing them through windows and railings was terrible. The bit before that, where they were all sitting around listening to hip hop while drinking 40's and rolling blunts, was
reminiscent of my undergraduate years a tad bit offensive, just because I kinda feel it went over the top with the stereotypes. But, what do I know, I've never really been in project housing.
Which leads me to my next point: this film really does drag some of America's dirty laundry out for everyone to see. As an upper-middle-class white male who grew up in the suburban South with an intact family, nice house, and formative education in an all-white academy (I did graduate from a public school though, don't hate), I have seen the attitudes which permeate the thoughts of Leigh Anne's detractors throughout the movie. The scene where she's eating lunch with the prim and proper wealthy Southern housewives (I'd call them stereotypes if they weren't dead ringers for half of the moms who peppered the stands of my little league games) who worry that Oher, "a big black boy," is going to rape her daughter and suggest that Leigh Anne has some sort of purely altruistic motive for taking care of the young man is honestly something which would happen in such a circumstance. Not "could." Would. As well, the foolish defensive end opposite of Oher in his first game who made some comment about him being a "black fatass" and the referee who did nothing to stop this are straight out of a Pillow Academy vs. Hillcrest Christian game.
Additionally, as One Man pointed out, the scenes in the housing projects are perturbing, frustrating, and sad. While shot in Atlanta and set in Memphis, the inner-city scenes seen in the film could have easily been in Los Angeles, Miami, DC, Chicago, or New York. Yeah. We've come a long way in America. But we haven't come far enough. The movie only reiterates something which I've been saying for a while in that most folks outside of the inner-city are either ignorant of the situations therein, apathetic towards them, or simply at a loss of ideas as to how to alleviate them. It sucks, and this movie will remind you of that. /soapbox
Oh, and that short-haired, bitchy-ass NCAA investigator was obviously a Mississippi State fan. HATE WEEK aside, folks who have convinced themselves that the Tuohy family took in a classmate of their daughter's because they wanted to funnel him--a young man with no prior experience playing organized sports--onto the Ole Miss football team would be laughable, if they weren't so damned pathetic. Get over it, haters.
Finally, from everything I could tell, all of the people portrayed in this film were portrayed fairly close to their real-life counterparts. As anyone who knows any of these folks can tell you, Michael Oher is very much a reserved, focused person; "Miss Sue" is a driven educator; and Leigh Anne Tuohy is a stubborn, idealistic mother (others would use more colorful language to describe her, but I shant at this moment). Well done actors and actresses.
So, in short, see it. If you're an Ole Miss fan, you'll love it. If you're an SEC football fan, you'll like it. If you're a football fan in general, you'll enjoy it, but gag yourself on the heaping helpful of chicken soup they'll be funneling into your soul.