I've said it before, but films like this with enlightened white people being so gracious as to help ignorant black people out and being inspired by their folksy wisdom along the way are so embarrassing and patronising to me I just cannot handle it. And on the basis of this trailer The Good Lie looks even worse than most, using the Lost Boys of Sudan to tell an inspirational story about a little white girl with a lot of moxy and a lot of heart. Also there are some Africans or whatever I guess. "This is called ice! This is what winter in America feels like" an American tells Sudanese refugees, in the same tone of voice one might speak to a 4 year old child. Reese Witherspoon, who you can tell is working really hard for another Academy Award because she dyed her hair and everything, asks the Senegalise or Somalians or whatever where their luggage is but-record scratch!!-they don't have aannny! They only have carry-on luggage, because they are inspirationally poor and simple! They are baffled by cows! They think lions roam the streets! But they teach such life-affirming lessons. And now, only the feisty middle American can help reunite these magical minorities with their sister, by being feisty and saying things like "who do I have to screw around here?" Why that's even more feisty than Bible-thumping Sandra Bullock standing up to a drug dealer in The Blind Side! She opened her home....they opened her eyes. Gooooooo fuck yourself.
This is the glass ceiling right here. If you're a woman and you want to rack up some award nominations, chances are you're going to have to play an Erin Brockovich a couple of times in your career, because that is one of the 4, maybe 5 female characters that Hollywood will give you. If you're black, you're either Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman, loud and scary or simple, docile yet wise. And simple and wise plays much better to the old farts in the Academy. Hokey fluff like Driving Miss Daisy sweeps up awards so people can feel good about themselves, Do The Right Thing wants you to think and question yourself and that's scary so it's invited along out of courtesy and asked to sit in the back and not make a ruckus. With a knowing smile and possibly some exotic words from their homeland, the Magical Negro knows to hand all agency to those people who make better Hollywood protagonists. The other Hollywood movie about the Sudanese conflict, Machine Gun Preacher, similarly knew that the stories we needed to hear about the most from that country are the helpful white people. Yes, like Machine Gun Preacher this film is based on true events, but ask yourself why out of the many stories to tell about the hardship suffered by Sudanese, why are ones like this focused on? There is a reason. I would laugh at this trailer because it's so ridiculous but then I think about "this is iiiiiiice" again and I just feel embarrassed again. Coming so soon after the trailer for Dear White People (in fact they're going to be released around the same time, but try and have a guess which one your parents are going to go see) just underlines how stupid The Good Lie looks.
There is a lie at the heart of films like The Good Lie, The Blind Side, The Butler, The Help. And it is a good one. Or at least, a successful one. Knock it off Hollywood.