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Sweet Like Fudge

The first impression of The Blind Side from its 150-second long trailer is certainly underwhelming, with its seemingly Sweet Like Fudge plot, mushy dialogue and yawnfest of a story.

Even its promotional poster featuring a petite woman gently guiding a giant of a man would draw a puzzled look from most people.

But any expectations you have are likely to be exceeded after you actually sit down and watch the movie.

Set in the southern state of Memphis in the United States, the production costs only US$29 million (about S$40.3 million), which is relatively low budget in Hollywood terms.

Yet during its first 7-week run, it manages to hold its own against the likes of bigger blockbusters like sci-fi mammoth Avatar and the slick and sexy Sherlock Holmes, grossing over a cool US$200 million, according to the Hollywood Insider.

But all that’s possible because the picture is a powerful and true story in itself – one that must be told.

A homeless black teen (Michael, played by Quinton Aaron) is literally scooped off the freezing streets by the altruism of a blond woman, who takes him into her family and makes him feel like he belongs.

Sandra Bullock is without a shred of doubt, the megastar of the 128-minute feature.

Formerly known for her funny lady turns in popular romantic comedies like The Proposal and Miss Congeniality, her career has taken a surprise turn with this compelling and emotionally demanding role as Leigh Anne Tuohy.

This leading lady of the film and family in the film is spirited and steely, often delivering sass and strength.

Bullock colours her character with such an emotional intensity that makes you feel for Leigh every time she tries to make the boy’s life better, like when she makes his bed, invites him to the dinner table with her family, buys him new clothes, and even coaches him in his football games.

Sweet Like Fudge

The movie surely leaves you guessing if there’s some sort of Pay It Forward imperative that drives Leigh to such an extent, that she’d invite a complete and total stranger into her life and very expensive home.

She asks herself precisely this in one scene where she’s visibly frustrated with the situation after Michael leaves during a quarrel.

“Am I a good person?” Leigh sighs. “It’s not a joke. Not rhetorical…”

“You are the best person that I know. Everything you do… You do it for others,” replies Sean Touhy, her husband and fast-food tycoon.

“And why is that?”

He laughs a little, before saying, “I have not a clue. But um… you obviously get some sort of sick satisfaction out of it.”

“Sean…” Leigh says in her thick Southern accent, “What if Michael never comes back?”

Most of the screen time is devoted to how the family deals with their new addition, who’s probably twice their individual sizes and comes with some very deep hurt from his childhood experiences.

While Michael is every bit capable of talking, he prefers to mutter under his breath and keep his sentences to a few lines. His GPA at school is a total disaster; much to his tutors’ despair.

He struggles through soccer practices as well, using his brute strength to shove his opponents to the ground instead of tackling them properly as you’re supposed to as the offensive lineman in American football.

The Herculean job of helping “Big Mike” get back on track then falls on the tiny shoulders of Leigh, who’s dressed in Gucci and Chanel for the most part.

While it may seem like a Disney fantasy that a wealthy white woman would extend her manicured nails to help Michael find the hope to live again, the fact remains that the story has happened.

American journalist Michael Lewis wrote the remarkable and uplifting tale of Touhy and sports legend Michael Oher into a book that was published in 2006, which while not very popular sales-wise, became the source material for director John Lee Hancock to make The Blind Side.

In this, Lee never lets any explosive effects or extravagant music direct the picture as popular tastes dictate.

Instead, he expertly layers the film with the development of the story’s characters with very light touches, and lets his talented cast give weight to the sensitive roles they play.

Sweet Like Fudge

Blessed with meaty scenes and delivering a hell of a performance, Bullock will be the actress to beat for the Oscar, come March.

Country singer Tim McGraw stars in the role of Mr Tuohy, and is a fitting match for the good-natured and charismatic man that he plays, while child actor Jae Head makes the little brother look and sound as cute as a button every time he is on with Michael.

Kathy Bates is the feisty Miss Sue, who’s hired by Bullock’s character to help the kid ace his exams so that he may qualify for a football scholarship.

Sweet Like Fudge

Newcomer Quinton Aaron plays the troubled and lonely Michael Oher, who cannot understand what his teachers are saying in class most of the time and carries around his wardrobe of a shirt and pair of pants wherever he goes.

We discover his heartbreaking past with his own family through a series of fast cuts and flashbacks.

Even without any formal training, Quinton is as convincing in every scene he appears with the other veteran actors. His droopy eyes and hunched posture exude the sadness of a boy who has lived most of his life forgotten by society.

It’s a role that’s hard to play well without milking an unnecessary extra dose of pity from the audience, but Quinton does unexpectedly well and reminds you of the male version of another newcomer, Gabourey Sidibe, who stars in the similarly themed Precious (2009), which is, unfortunately, not likely to see a release in Singapore

Both Quinton and Gabourey certain make the list of stars to watch during 2010’s many award ceremonies.

By the time the movie ends on a triumphant note where Michael Oher finally earns his place in college and in the football team, it’s hard not to shed tears with the spitfire of his blond adoptive mother as she quickly dashes off into her car to hide her heartache that her new son is going off to live in college.

It’s the short and quiet scenes like these that make Bullock the serious leading Hollywood actress that she already has been for a long time, just waiting for the right role.

While the film also has many of those big sentimental moments, it’s the little nuances in body language or facial expressions by the characters that make you feel a little warmer on the inside and give the movie the big heart that it deserves.

Sweet Like Fudge

Ultimately, The Blind Side is a big package of love, hope and all things good in a family. Paired with the drama of a young black man’s awe-inspiring story, a very convincing and skillful cast, and America’s all-time favourite sport, you’ve a winning formula that’s sweeter than fudge, and bound for greater things during its run on the silver screen.

Sweet Like Fudge

The UrbanWire gives The Blind Side 4 popcorns.

Release: Jan 14 (Singapore)

Duration: 128 min

Language: English

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Sports / Drama

Director: John Lee Hancock

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, Quinton Aaron, Lily Collins, Jae Head

Deepti Bhatta
Deepti Bhatta
Deepti Bhatta is a versatile wordsmith whose passion for storytelling knows no bounds. With a background in literature and a penchant for exploration, Deepti brings a fresh perspective to the realm of entertainment writing.


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