If you haven't read "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," you probably need to take an hour this weekend and go find this book somewhere, anywhere. It's just a great great book that lays out how the improvement of passing games changed the focus of the offensive line to the left tackle and then segways into the Hollywoodesque Michael Oher story. If you are unfamiliar, Oher was an unknown 310 lb. young man from Tennessee who, after a horrendous upbringing amidst squalor, was adopted into a wealthy Memphis family and began attending a private school. At this school, he learned how to play football at the urging of his family and the coaches and was quickly rated the #1 offensive lineman in the nation. He was just recently drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Michael Lewis, who wrote The Blind Side, tells an enrapturing story full of anecdotes and gives an in-depth look at Oher's controversial recruiting. I couldn't put the book down.
When I heard a movie was being made of The Blind Side, I assumed Hollywood couldn't screw this one up. This had blockbuster written all over it. Great imagery of football, a boy's changing personality amidst his fame, Phillip Fulmer doing a cameo when all the coaches were watching Oher destroy opposing d-linemen.
Now it looks like the screenwriters turned it into just another cliche-driven "sports" movie that deep down is really a chick flick. Check out the trailer below:
A spirited Sandra Bullock...a plucky tutor played by Kathy Bates...Swelling music by The Fray, singing "How To Save A Life"...Tagline: "You're changing that boy's life....No, he's changin' mine"...Two football scenes, 7 Sandra Bullock "being a spirited hardass with a heart of gold" scenes...
Damn it. I'm not a movie critic, but I've seen this movie before. It's called Glory Road Miracle and every other damn mainstream sports movie in the last 15 years. The unquestioned star in this trailer is Sandra Bullock, playing the woman who brought Oher into her house and helped him succeed. The star of the book was the game of football and Oher himself, a painfully shy young man who just happened to be 310 pounds and athletic. Is it that hard to take an interesting angle on a sports story?
You all don't know that Law Buckeye, while attending Miami of Ohio, made a couple full length movies, the second one with SAG actors and on a $10,000 budget. We frequently talk about the importance of a movie having correct verisimilitude, being cohesive, and giving the viewer something surprising or edgy. It seems the producers took the easy way out, going for a small box office profit instead of staying true to the book and taking a chance of making an interesting movie.
Apparently Hollywood is betting you're going to see this movie because you love Sandra Bullock and inspiring stories...and maybe I'm just cynical and annoyed that an excellent book has been twisted into a probably teary melodrama. Either way, this book would have made a killer movie - I envision an in-depth look at Oher as a person or a football player, the way rules will bend for athletic young men, and the recruiting process that makes gods out of young men overnight.
In the book, Tom Lemming visits a practice with Oher, who heaves a 250 lb defender 10 feet during a blocking drill. That night, Lemming spreads the word that he may have seem the next Orlando Pace...and things go nuts for Oher and his private school after that. How cool is that??!! You're telling me you wouldn't watch a football related movie with those kinds of scenes dominating the action? Instead we get to watch Sandra Bullock hug people.