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REVIEW: The Blind Side

Don't take your dog to see this at the Santee drive-in

The Blind Side: Rates a B-.
Courtesy photo

I had to wait for football season to end before writing about The Blind Side.

And I felt so bad during the season when I’d catch a Baltimore game and hear the announcers talk endlessly about Michael Oher, the real-life player the film is “loosely” based on.

After a discussion about drive-ins and their disappearance, I decided to see The Blind Side at the one drive-in left in Santee. Imagine my shock when the sign said, “No dogs,” and my girlfriend and I had to throw a blanket over our pooch as if we were guys in those 1950s films smuggling in their friends via the car trunk.

I was a bit surprised at the price, too. It was only a couple dollars less than a regular theater. I guess since you can hear the film perfectly on a radio station from the comfort of your own car, and without the $8 popcorn, they’ve got to make their money somehow.

Now, my first instinct after seeing a film based on a real character is to Google it; however, after loving Cinderella Man so much and finding out a lot of bogus stuff the movie included (you can always count on Ron Howard for that), I officially ended that practice.

A year later, I watched a Disney film about the first all-black starting college basketball team, which I also enjoyed. I was able to refrain from Googling it but happened to read a Sports Illustrated article that talked about all the things made up for that film, too.

One well-known critic I’ve argued with before (his name rhymes with “Dodger Alert”) mentioned in a book on the 100 greatest films (a great read, by the way), that the movie JFK doesn’t have to be real because it’s a movie. I feel that’s completely wrong. If you want to go that direction, write a movie like The Rose. People might be reminded of Janis Joplin, but it’s a fictional character, so you can do what you want with it.

Going blindly into The Blind Side, I already knew it would have a happy ending. That doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy the ride, no matter how cliché the sports film becomes. You’d have to have a heart of stone (no Roberto Duran reference intended) to not get misty-eyed.

It’s nice to see Sandra Bullock make a good film. And please, don’t try to argue that Crash was good. It was okay at best.

I know Tim McGraw, her husband in The Blind Side, is a country singer. I don’t know anything about his music but was a fan of his dad, Tug--the man with the worst name in baseball history.

It’s a shame that Bullock will win the Oscar for this role. It’s a bit schmaltzy. But then, maybe the Academy just can’t wrap their minds around a rich Republican from Texas helping out a poor kid.

The script has a few fumbles along the way and was almost in danger of looking like a polished-up, after-school special or Lifetime movie of the week.

It’s a shame, too, that the few times I was really getting into a scene, there were distractions from the drive-in crowd.

One person started high-beaming the screen. Another time, a car alarm went off for four minutes--the equivalent of a cell phone going off in a regular theatre.

It’s strange that some are hailing this as the best movie of the year. I can name 100 better sports movies and at least 15 better football movies. There's one from this year called The Express, starring Dennis Quaid (he also did a football film called Everybody’s All-American that easily surpassed The Blind Side).

Although this is the conventional sports drama you expect (do sports films even need trailers?), the performances all worked. And sure, I felt like pulling an Elvis and shooting the screen when I saw the words, “Based on a true story.” I felt like shooting the screen a second time when I saw a weak opening sequence for what should’ve been a powerful scene (Bullock talking about the importance of linemen and the gruesome career-ending injury of Joe Theismann).

Mike Oher struggled in school, but his story on film pulled at best a B-.

Sandra Bullock will pull the Oscar in for this. I’d just love to see a baseball card with her movie credits listed on the back like statistics. It wouldn’t be the same pretty picture you see on the flip side.