A perfect ensemble of characters is brought together in The Blind Side to tell the true story of Michael Oher's rise from the ashes of life to play as a tackle for the Baltimore Ravens football team. In a moment of serendipitous provision a tough as nails gentlewoman of the South finds Michael as an oversized high school boy and opens her wings and her family's hearth to give the gift of love which leads to life.
Michael Oher has a painful upbringing that isn't a new story...it's just his story this time. It doesn't matter if a hundred other kids or a thousand other kids have lived the same story or one of its variations, the pain and agony are always unique and excruciating to the one living it in their own skin. Michael started at a new high school as a football recruit and as Providence would have it, a cold night, a cold boy and a no-nonsense Southern woman all came together on a road to a gym, but for Michael, the road took a detour. It didn't lead directly to the gym--that came later--it led to a family's hearth and heart and to a bed.
Leigh Anne Touhy and her family take Michael (Quinton Aaron) under their wings, give him love and a tutor. Michael applies himself, learns, gets passing grades and--and encounters football. This moose of a young man, who doesn't like being called Big Mike, takes football by storm by not understanding one single thing about it. It is Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) who teaches him football by telling him, "This is your quarterback. You watch his blind side...When you see him, you think of me." That has to be the world's most elegant introduction to contact sport ever uttered. And then--Michael Oher was a first-round draft pick to play professional football for the Baltimore Ravens, at 6’4” and 309 pounds.
Sandra Bullock is at her best in The Blind Side. Bullock has her southern accent down to almost perfection (there are one or two spots where she speaks pure Yankee, but her accent isn't nearly as weak as it was in Infamous) and she succeeds in keeping her comedic impulses in check, although once in awhile you can see one of those impulses start to flicker then die (e.g., at "over-priced salad"). All-in-all, Sandra Bullock plays the no-nonsense, tough as nails, courageous and large-hearted Leigh Anne Touhy with authenticity, making the relationship between Michael and Leigh Anne breathe with truthfulness. Leigh Anne is what more and more women aspire to be.
Rookie actor Quinton Aaron has been in a handful of TV productions, including playing a bodyguard on Law & Order and in a TV pilot. Aaron hit exactly the right notes with Michael's character. The scene when he and Leigh Anne go to pick up Michael's clothes contains some of the best film moments of 2009. Leigh Anne's son and daughter, who support and encourage Michael, and Leigh Anne's husband, who beams at Michael with sincere happiness and good will and helps him along, add the right notes of harmony to Michael's phoenix story.
Besides doing an excellent job of telling a true story about human excellence, The Blind Side also reveals a truth that many would rather keep hidden these days: Families and siblings do behave with love, appreciation, kindness and gentleness to each other; not all families and siblings are spiteful, bitter, quarrelsome, hateful and cruel to each other. Conflict in life doesn't have to come from within the family circle, or the circle of friendship for that matter; conflict should only come from without.
Director John Lee Hancock, with only six other directing credits to his name, put together a film that tells a terrific story about truly terrific individuals who were brought together by Providential chance for the betterment of one individual life—Michael Oher’s. (Of course the Toughys have their lessons to learn, too.) Production designer Michael Corenblith and editor Mark Livolsi succeeded in making a harmoniously unified film out of places as disparate as the ghetto tenements and posh restaurants with over-priced salads. The Blind Side, rated PG-13, is definitely a movie you will want to see—but leave the young, sensitive and impressionable ones home. It might even turn you into a Ravens fan.
Rated PG-13 for brief violence, drug and sexual references.
John Lee Hancock - Director; Michael Lewis - Book Writer; John Lee Hancock - Screenplay Writer; Michael Oher – Quinton Aaron; Sandra Bullock - Leigh Anne Touhy; Tim McGraw – Sean Touhy.
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