“The Blind Side” – 4.5 stars
“The Blind Side” is adapted from the book of the same name by Michael Lewis (“Moneyball”). The story documents the intersection of two completely disparate cultures in Memphis, Tennessee. It is a true story, but like any film adaptation there are some incongruities with reality (some “creative license” to make it more dramatic). Michael Oher is a very poor black teenager who grew up in a broken home. His mother is a drug addict who has fathered 13 other children and has a hard time remembering who Michael’s real father was. Through the persistence of a friend’s father, Michael is accepted to a private Christian school but he struggles socially and scholastically. When he is no longer able to sleep on a friend’s couch, because the family can’t afford to feed “Big Mike” anymore, he starts sleeping in the gym at school and surviving on popcorn and concessions left after the high school games. When he is walking to the gym one cold evening, Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family pass by him in their car and offer him a place to sleep for the night. The relationship between Michael and the Tuohys deepens and develops throughout the rest of the film, culminating in some truly heart-warming cinema.
The strength of this film lies in its honest portrayal of a Godly family, who put their money (and their home) where their mouth is. The director, John Lee Hancock (“The Rookie”), tells this story in a very simple manner. Nothing too artistic or fancy in the cinematography, which is a good thing. Hancock realizes that the strength is in the story and does his best to facilitate the telling of this very American tale. The acting is very good. Sandra Bullock is excellent as Leigh Ann. Rumors of a Best Actress nomination have been swirling since the opening of the film and I believe she deserves the nomination. Tim McGraw is surprising as her husband. I knew that he was getting into acting, but I had no idea that he would perform this competently. He doesn’t blow the roof off, but he contributes good material and provides a lot of good support during scenes with Bullock. Jae Head provides most of the comic relief as S.J Tuohy, the youngest of the family. Cameos by real-life college football coaches including Nick Saban, Lou Holtz and others are cool. “The Blind Side” is not a football film, per se. Football is the backdrop that frames much of the action, but the real focus of the film is the redemption of one young man’s life through the ministrations of a caring family. It is a tribute to the strength of family and Christian beliefs, and has some great football moments along the way.
I have read some reviewers who did not like this film because it seemed too pat and neat. I do not buy this. We have become so cynical as a culture that sometimes we miss genuine forests for the jaded trees. It is simply refreshing to go into a movie theater and enjoy a well-told tale which doesn’t shrink from the characters’ Christianity or family values. If you are looking for a fun family film to go see this holiday season, I would highly recommend “The Blind Side”. Thank you for taking the time to read this review.