Hicks Try for Sainthood in ‘Titans’ Knockoff

Inspired by the true tale of Michael Oher (newcomer Quintin Aaron), “The Blind Side” follows the assumedly toughing saga of an impoverished black kid adopted by “kind Christian white-folk,” giving him the opportunity to become a college football phenom. The synopsis itself should be enough to derail you — but we shall continue.

Leigh Anne Touhy (Sandra Bullock) plays the Southern belle who invites poor Oher into her home — a Kathy Lee Gifford clone complete with an ear-wrenching Southern accent. Touhy’s rather bland family is composed of her husband (the typecast Tim McGraw), their underwhelming not-quite-bitchy-enough daughter Collins and son SJ — the less cute and more annoying version of the kid from “Jerry Maguire.”

“Side” is predictable and rife with uninspired dialogue, but the greatest distraction lies in the fact that the characters, who are supposed to mirror their real-life counterparts, are free of flaw. In fact, it isn’t until a vomitous photomontage over the end credits that the audience is reminded that director John Lee Hancock’s film is based on actual events. Because the script doesn’t manage any engaging conflicts or personality transformations, the audience is left both unconvinced and uninspired.

Sometimes casting a nobody as the protagonist can have an awesome outcome — as evidenced by last year’s Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire.” But the formula only works if that nobody can halfway act. It’s difficult to determine what to make of Aaron as an actor at first, as his character doesn’t speak and his face bears little emotion. Then he starts talking — and all remaining hopes are dashed.

To whom is this supposed to appeal? Has Hollywood not produced enough inspirational underdog football flicks with subtle racial tension? We all saw “Remember The Titans,” liked it well enough and wish to never see it reenacted again.

Although its underlying story is technically uplifting, the film paints every issue as black vs. white, consequently coming off as condescending and racist. Heightened melodrama takes itself too seriously, never pausing long enough to have real emotional impact — and with maudlin, score-driven scenes orchestrated to draw out phony feelings, it’s almost hard not to feel used.

The film only gets interesting in the few moments that Michael reenters the ghetto in search of his crack-head mother. Sadly, the rest of the plot takes place inside a golden-gated, pale-skinned dream home, as Oher is invited in one day and magically adopted the next. From there, Hancock forces us to sit through what feels like an entire football game of monotonous play-by-plays and southern drawl.

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