Oversized African American Michael Oher, the teen from across the tracks and a broken home, has nowhere to sleep at age 16. Taken in by an affluent Memphis couple, Leigh Anne and Sean, Michael embarks on a remarkable rise to play for the NFL.
At the Movies
Director: John Lee Hancock
The Blind Side (PG) * * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Football is to Americans as Hockey is to Canadians and soccer to the rest of the world. Funny how a movie with a sports theme takes second stage to an even bigger message; in The Blind Side we get to see a new dimension to leading lady Sandra Bullock. Like so many other actors Ms. Bullock is trying to add dramatic performance to her repertoire. Following the footsteps of fellow comic Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love Ms. Bullock makes an impressive bow in this uplifting tale from Warner Brothers
Home base for our tale is the Deep South. Way down yonder in Memphis there still seems to be a cultural divide. Like many big cities in North America there are the haves and the have nots. Behind The Blind Side are economic woes laced with prejudice and hope. Action here revolves around the plight of a lonely black boy named Michael with a host of problems too numerous to list here.
When Michael, played brilliantly by Michael Oher,l arrives at Wingate High School you immediately notice that there aren’t too many Afro American students at this Christian academy. Besides having the race issue on his plate Michael turns out to be not exactly prime academic material. Largely taken for granted most give this young lad no chance to succeed.
Charity Begins At Home For Upscale Christian Couple
Amidst this backdrop comes freewheeling Leigh Anne Tuohy, brought to life by Sandra Bullock in a breakout performance. Life has been good to Leigh Anne and she’s blessed with two adorable children and a loving husband. Charity is big with her as are her society efforts and being a good Christian she notices the plight of this poor boy. People with airs about them can be liked or despised. Hearts of gold are rare commodities so it’s surprising to everyone when a rich white woman takes a poor black boy into her world. Yes, stories like this have been done before. Great all round performances and a well-written script make The Blind Side enjoyable and memorable on a number of fronts.
Underdog stories and films about those from the wrong side of the tracks are commonplace. Here all revolves around family, or the lack thereof, as the centerpiece about struggle and adversity. Director John Lee Hancock co-wrote this 129 minute drama and its pacing is perfect with nary a moment to bore you. Instead, people will be captivated by the sincerity of the acting. Even the on-screen footage of action on the field pales in comparison to the intensity behind the scenes as to what will happen when a fish out of water enters a new strange world that may have repercussions far outside that single family home, no matter how spacious and luxurious it may be.
Sandra Bullock Shows Poise In Dramatic Departure
Fresh off a big spring success in the romantic comedy The Proposal comes Sandra Bullock. Long admired for her niceness on set and generosity off screen Ms. Bullock is terrific as the no-nonsense straight shooting mother who decides to make Michael almost her own personal cause. At her side through thick and thin is musician turned actor Tim McGraw (The Kingdom) whose laid back style here perfectly contrasts with the almost General Patton directives uttered by his wife. Under all that bravado, however, may be a true mother at heart.
Struggle within and from outside forces plague our central figure Michael Oher. Bound to create a big stir is Quinton Aaron whose portrayal of a troubled young man will certainly stir audiences. Other standouts in this movie are the young son of the couple and Kathy Bates whose small screen time delivers more punch in a story about making the right decisions with second guessers all along the way.
No need for lots of rah rah here. Let the spirit of helping others grip you and hopefully never let go. Funny at times, sad at others, The Blind Side is one movie that will open your eyes and make you think about how you treat others in a hopefully positive way.