YES – I am about to recap and SPOIL this movie. But it doesn’t matter, because you didn’t really want to see it anyway! So deal. Or stop reading. If you stop reading, though, you’ll miss out on a film that’s more racially problematic than a Klan meeting.
We start with a black mechanic who drives two children to a wealthy private school. He speaks to a coach at the school, requesting that he accept his son, the smaller of the two kids, to start him on a better path. Instead, the coach is interested in the other child, known as Big Mike. You can practically see trophies flash in the coach’s eyes as he sizes up the massive Big Mike.
We never hear what becomes of the mechanic’s son; presumably, as a scrawny black kid, he has nothing to offer the upper crust white society and is never admitted to the school. Big Mike, however, has the girth to be a star football player, so the coach goes to the school’s admission board and begs them to accept Big Mike. The coach uses white guilt as his first ploy, and when that fails, he follows up by reminding the school officials of their Christian values. Christian guilt trumps even white guilt, apparently. The religious administrators, who have probably previously used African missionary trips as an excuse for going on paid safari vacations, finally relent and agree to tame this large, savage beast.
Big Mike immediately struggles at his new school. One white teacher, played by someone other than Michelle Pfeiffer, who must have been busy (doing what though?!), recognizes that just because Big Mike is uneducated doesn’t make him an idiot. He has potential! The other teachers laugh. Big Mike also has trouble making friends. After a month, the first people Big Mike attempts to befriend are two small kindergarten girls who run away from him in fear. The scene is supposed to show that no one will give Big Mike a chance, but I’m with the girls: he’s being creepy. Try hanging out with someone within ten years of your own age.
Another kid at the school, S.J., performs in the school play as “Indian #3” (of the Native American variety.) He wanted to be the chief, but apparently they gave that role to the Chinese kid because of his ethnicity. Oh, affirmative action! On the way home, his parents’ car passes Big Mike walking around in the cold and the mom, Sandra Bullock, demands the car be stopped so she can take him home and feel like a hero for the night. Of course, she assumes Big Mike is going to steal from him while she’s asleep, but what else is a do-gooder white woman to think.
Bullock enjoys having a charity case living in her house. She bonds with Big Mike in the best way you can with a character that never utters more than a few words. Bullock takes Big Mike back to his home in the projects where she must stay in the car, because there are perverted black men hanging out on the stoops who want to have sex with the pretty white lady. She does not like this environment, so she insists that Big Mike stay with her family permanently, giving S.J. the big black brother he’s always wanted. Meanwhile, Bullock keeps asking questions that she already knows the answer to like “Did you ever have a bed?” and “Did your mom ever read to you?” so that her heart can break a little when he says no, then be instantly repaired when she thinks of what a good mother SHE is.
Since the white teacher has been working hard to find his potential, Big Mike finally reaches a GPA that allows him to play sports. His new family takes him out to celebrate and tell him the big news. They’ve been feeding and housing him in anticipation of a sports career all semester, and finally their investment is paying off!
Football doesn’t come easy to Big Mike. He doesn’t know how to play because he’s never cared about football previously. Both his brother S.J. and his mother Bullock pressure him repeatedly, reminding him that football and his team are like family and he can’t give up, essentially implicitly reminding him that he’ll disappoint his other family if he quits. Over time, Big Mike excels and becomes a star!
Meanwhile, Big Mike wants his drivers license. For some convoluted reason, this requires Bullock to first become his legal guardian. Even though she can do so legally immediately, she vows to wait until speaking to Big Mike’s biological mom first. She says it’s out of respect, but really it’s just another chance for her to see what a better mother she is. Yes, Bullock, you are better than a crack addict who has lost custody of her dozen kids. Keep being white!
When Big Mike earns his license, his adoptive parents buy him a new car, specifically a pick-up truck. Everyone knows
As Big Mike continues to excel at football, numerous colleges scout him. His new parents, Ole Miss alums, pressure him toward their alma mater, even giving the Ole Miss coach insider information on Big Mike so they can recruit him more effectively. Before he can get into any Division I school, however, he must improve upon his D-range GPA. Looks like the whole emphasis on education went out the window once he qualified for sports, and now he’s facing the same problem again. They hire Kathy Bates as Big Mike’s personal tutor. Bates is a democrat, which Bullock considers to be more shameful than being black, and nearly says as much. Bates is also an Ole Miss alumnus, and makes up stories about rival teams having dead bodies under their playing fields to scare him into accepting at her school. You can’t trust a liberal!
Since literally everyone that cares for him wants him to go to Ole Miss, Big Mike chooses accordingly, if you can even call it choosing. Thereafter, the NCAA investigates the recruiting process. They find it strange that a couple of Ole Miss boosters have adopted a kid and set him on the path in what appears to be an elaborate recruitment process. Big Mike suddenly realizes that maybe his white parents had ulterior motives.
Big Mike runs away to find his biological mother because suddenly a parent with no expectations seems preferable to a manipulative one… or maybe he just wanted some crack. The black men who want to have sex with his white mom meet him instead. Their conversation leads to a physical altercation, which just goes to show that all black men, even supposed gentle giants, are prone to violence. Though there is no kung-fu involved, the fight scene is reminiscent of a ninja film where Big Mike is able to beat up each of the assailants who approach him one at a time, despite the fact that they all have guns.
Bullock comes to the rescue, and Big Mike returns to the NCAA investigator. He says something cute and suddenly all is forgiven and the investigation is terminated. His white family, which IS his real family, proudly drops him off at Ole Miss. Bullock leaves Big Mike with a parting hug, then, I KID YOU NOT, warns him that she’ll cut off his penis if he gets a girl pregnant out of wedlock. S.J. immediately chimes in, “She means it!” so sincerely that I half expect him to pull down his pants and show his own neutered groin, but that doesn’t transpire. Nevertheless, Bullock’s comment shows just how far she’s come toward seeing young black men as more than a stereotype. Or not. Not at all actually.
Apparently, this has all been based on a true story (of fucking course) and Big Mike goes on to join the NFL. The message here is that you can be whatever you want to be. Or rather, you can be whatever other people want you to be, especially if they “believe” in you. One has to wonder if they believed Big Mike could be a scientist, whether he also could have succeeded in that field. But I guess we’ll never know, because they looked at a big black guy and thought “FOOTBALL!” and the rest was history. Congratulations, white people!