18
Dec
09

Movie Review: The Blind Side

A good movie based on a true story.

Starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Kim Dickens and Ray McKinnon. Directed by John Lee Hancock. Based on the book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game,” by Michael Lewis

Maybe it’s me getting older. The hype that surrounds certain movies often seem to overwhelm how the movies actually are. Sure, there are a few worthy of the hype machine yelling their praises from the rooftops but if this year has taught me anything about movie watching and reviewing it’s that more oft than not the movies you don’t expect to be all that great end up being the ones you enjoy the most. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with “The Blind Side.” In all fairness if not for the fact that I was able to get into the free screening of it, I probably wouldn’t have seen it at all.

I’m not a huge fan of sports movies, especially football. After “Friday Night Lights,” and “Varsity Blues,” I was pretty sure the field had been played for all it was worth. Here came a football movie that wasn’t so much about the game as it was about a guy who became a player, and for once it didn’t take place in Texas.

“The Blind Side” is based on the story of Michael Oher. Michael , aka “Big Mike,” was born in the Projects of Memphis. He is one of 12 kids who grew up never knowing his father and whose mother spent her existence on crack, among other drugs. Going from foster home to foster home, always running back to take care of his mother he eventually ends up sleeping on his uncle’s couch. His uncle takes him to predominantly white Christian school and tries to get him in. With a GPA around the same as a blood-alcohol level, the cards are stacked against him.

One night while walking home he’s noticed by the Tuohy family. Leigh Anne Tuohy is a socialite who runs errands and buys/sells things. Her husband Stephen (McGraw) runs 85 Taco Bells. They live in a nice house with two kids: Stephen Jr., aka “SJ,” and Collins. The family is sports-oriented: dad played basketball at Ole Miss, mom was a cheerleader, and sister runs track, plays volleyball, and is a cheerleader. Leigh Anne, seeing “Big Mike” as someone needing assistance, decides to lend a helping hand.

Michael’s life is slowly turned around as Leigh Anne provides him with things and experiences he’s never had: owning a bed, having new clothes, studying for classes, etc. Leigh Anne’s own world is changed as she sees Hurt Village, aka The Projects, a side of Memphis her friends would rather take pity on and throw charity money at then volunteer help with. The family recognizes Michael as a “diamond in the rough” and take him in as one of their own.

Not all is smooth sailing as Michael has his share of bad experiences: his mother’s last known residence is locked with an eviction notice on it. Teachers aren’t quite sure what to make of him. He gets into a car accident. He encounters racist idiocy on the football field. His anti-social behavior has him keeping a distance from everyone. Leigh Anne does the best she can to help him out at every turn.

The final product of it all is that Michael Oher becomes the most sought-after offensive lineman in the history of sports. He attends Ole Miss and ends up drafted into the NFL. Currently he’s #4 among rookie players in the nation.

What I liked about this movie is that is was equal parts sports, learning, and the human condition. It’s about taking a chance and believing in something; it’s about making a difference. There’s a note at the end of the film that he could’ve turned out to be someone living in Hurt Village whose life was cut short. Because someone took the time to see him as being something bigger than themselves, he’s turned out just fine.

How about the performances? I’m not a huge fan of Sandra Bullock but she does disappear into this role and it seems to be something she believes in. I’ve never seen country star Tim McGraw act before so I can only say that he does well. Quinton Aaron, who plays Michael Oher, does a great job in conveying a teenage boy who has endured a life of hurt and must learn to trust and believe in himself.

Why should you see this movie? If you’ve been waiting for that movie that has a good story with a small amount of morals and message, this is it. No cussing (that I can recall), no overt drug use (though some are shown in one scene), no incredibly sappy lines or scenes (though some may strike a chord with you). It’s a well crafted and executed true story, which is saying a lot.

Watch for Phillip Fulmer, Lou Holtz, Tom Lemming, Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, Franklin ‘Pepper’ Rodgers, Nick Saban, and Tommy Tuberville playing themselves.

Useless but Cool Trivia: Kim Dickens and Ray McKinnon were both in the HBO TV series, “Deadwood.”

My grade: B+

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