Movie review: The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock

I’m a sports snob. I strongly believe there’s only a handful of truly great sports movies. It’s just too difficult for filmmakers to recreate the drama that takes place on the field. So when the Creative Loafers asked me to review The Blind Side, a sports movie I would never see, starring an actress I really don’t like, I was skeptical. But they promised me Jujubees, so I agreed to attend the premiere.

I fell into my comfy leather chair at the Cobb Theater Cinebistro in Wesley Chapel, fully expecting to pan everything about the movie. Then a strange thing happened. The film turned out to be pretty good.

the-blind-side-posterBlind Side is adapted from Michael Lewis’ novel of the same name. Just like the book, the film begins with a narrative of the game in which Lawrence Taylor broke Joe Theismann’s leg. According to Lewis, that hit more than any other moment in football history, heightened the need for a strong, left tackle to protect the quarterback’s blind side.

Enter the Michael Oher story.

Oher (Quinton Aaron) is an oversized, high school kid from Memphis’ inner city with no academic records and a crack addict for a mother. He is accepted into a local Christian high school when the football coach recognizes his potential.

Early scenes at Wingate Christian High School depict Oher as uncomfortable and intimidated in his new, mostly white surroundings. One teacher describes him as ‘a fly in the milk.’ Oher never says much, most of his expressions portrayed through mopey, facial gestures. Aaron’s performance isn’t groundbreaking, unless of course Oher didn’t say much in real life. If that’s the case, his performance is dead on.

blind-side-movie-sandra-bullock1After their youngest son (Jae Head) befriends Oher, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy (Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw), stumble upon Oher one afternoon roaming the streets, avoiding return to his crime-ridden projects. They welcome him into their home to sleep on their sofa for a night, which becomes a week, which ultimately becomes a legal adoption.

Despite Oher’s poor grades, school administrators find that he excels in one capacity. He scores a 98% in protective instincts on a high school aptitude test.

The Tuohy’s, a well-to-do, Southern Republican family with a strong allegiance to Ole Miss, hire a private tutor (Kathy Bates) to help Oher with his academic troubles. Once getting good enough grades to make the football team, Oher has trouble adjusting to the brutality of the sport. It’s not until Bullock compares protecting his quarterback to the affection he feels for his new family that Oher finally understands his purpose on the field.

the-blind-side-sandra-bullockThe word gets out about Oher eventually when a top scout is sent a DVD of his skills. Suddenly, major college coaches flock to recruit him. Sports fans will enjoy cameos from Nick Saban, Tommy Tuberville, Phillip Fulmer, Lou Holtz and Houston Nutt, although LSU fans will cringe seeing Saban wearing purple once again.

The only problem is Oher is failing English, which makes him academically ineligible to receive a football scholarship. It’s not until McGraw recites “The Charge of the Light Brigade” that Oher learns about courage, honor and ultimately passes another difficult test: his final English essay.

Oher decides to enroll at Ole Miss, which draws an NCAA investigation to ensure the Tuohy family did not tamper with his decision. Oher buys into it, then lashes out at Bullock, accusing her of taking him in just to get him to go to their alma mater. A resentful and confused Oher returns to the projects in search of his real mom, then busts up the local gangster’s home, a scene which probably warrants the film’s PG-13 rating.

nOhur1.jpgLittle by little, the audience is allowed a peek into Oher’s upbringing, not a pretty picture, probably less so in real life. The film features several touching moments such as when the Tuohy’s drop Oher off at college or when Bullock confronts Oher’s real mother, who can barely remember which man was his biological father.

The film has its share of trite, Hollywood moments including McGraw and Bullock’s designer marriage in which they never argue, Bullock telling off her country club friends in a moment of racial enlightenment, phoning the football coach from the sidelines to call in plays and Oher getting flagged in his opening game for ‘excessive blocking.’ Blind Side also glosses over several racial and class stereotypes, careful to equally bash Democrats, rednecks and Southerners. The film also provides several moments of comic relief in the form of McGraw’s occasional one-liners that help to break up the film’s drama.

Without reading Lewis’ book or knowing the complete Oher history, one might think the film is overdramatized, until the closing credits which show a sequence of real pictures of Oher being raised by Tuohy family. They remind us that Blind Side is not only based on a true story, it is a true story.

Blind Side won’t go down in the annals as the greatest sports movie ever made but it does have its moments. It’s a touching depiction of what can result when some, give others, a fighting chance.

29 thoughts on “Movie review: The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock

  1. Chris

    It’s not so much about the movie and the acting. But the story itself and that of Michael Oher’s life and the adversities he faced. Well that’s enough to make you have faith in the system and especially those as in the family depicted by Sandra Bullock and Tim Mcraw.

    I think that there was an ever better movie than this recently, starring Rob Brown ‘The Express’ – which depicted the life of Heisman trophy winner Ernie Davis. It’s a must see in my book !

    Alan Parkins

  2. I saw them both and they’re both inspirational.

    They’re both a bit Hollywood but worth the watch.

    Like I said, Al, I fully expected to pan Blind Side but it had its moments.

  3. Chris Humpherys

    Hollywood isn’t really accustomed to making great sports movies. They rarely do and that’s because more often than not the writers and directors have little insight into that world. When occasionally a great sports movie comes along. It’s because those behind it, take great care in doing it right and make the story all the more acceptable and believable.

    Hence the reason I liked Finding Forrester, Remember The Titans, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Raging Bull and Requiem For A Heavyweight.

    Well the top 3 in college football are doing their thing as usual. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for USC. How bad was that particular a_s whupping at the hands of Stanford. I was half expecting to see Tiger suited up out there against the Trojans. That was until I realized that he was in Australia winning their version of The Masters. A cool $750,000 went with winning the tournament on top of his $3 million appearance fee. Who says it doesn’t pay to play ?

    Alan Parkins

  4. Good points, Al.

    I actually read into Michael Lewis’ book a little for the piece. Apparently, he went to high school with Tuohy, McGraw’s character.

    Lewis had been working on a few other things when he heard that the Tuohy’s had taken Oher in.

    It wasn’t until Tuohy told Lewis that major colleges were looking at Oher that Lewis decided to drop his other projects and focus on the Blind Side.

    Re: USC, maybe Los Angeles does need a professional football team now. That defense is horrific.

  5. Chris

    They already had a semi pro team in the Trojans ? But I guess their paychecks must’ve bounced ? Hence the putrid display play against Stanford ! They only play when they’re being paid inside the Trojans’ domain. ‘nough said !

    Alan Parkins

  6. I couldn’t put the book down and read it straight through. Looking forward to seeing the movie. Heh, the Ravens are playing the Browns tonight and you can bet I’ll be checking out #74 Michael Oher. Thanks for the review.

  7. Robin… My pleasure. Thanks for swinging by.

    I think you’ll find the movie is very similar to Lewis’ book with a few Hollywood moments thrown in for tear-jerking purposes.

  8. I read the book, and know the story quite well through my family in Memphis.

    Like you, Bullock is a deal breaker when it comes to me seeing a movie or not. But, I was planning on watching this one anyway. I won’t go out of my way though, may wait for the dvd.

  9. Chris

    The reason why the Trojans are sliding is because there’s not been enough money passed around amongst the team. Did you not realize within their system … pays to play ? Especially when you’re paid to play. LOL,LOL, LOL !!!! Hush , hush , keep that one on …..the down low. As we wouldn’t want the Trojans’ dirty little secret getting out now – would we ?

    What’s happened into the NCAA’s investigation into Reggie Bush ? And what about the O J Mayo Tim Floyd guffaw ? Funny how that seems to have been swept under the carpet ? But yet they’re (NCAA) front and center and getting ready to drop the bomb on the FSU program in some form. Which in reality has been more egregious. FSU’s mea culpa ? Or the ongoing shenanigans of USC ?

    The NCAA is a complete and yet they’re going on as if Myles Brand’s death was really that great of a loss. The death of one’s child is a great loss ! The death of Myles Brand – who knows ? It’s certainly not to represent the way that they conduct themselves.

    They’re in essence a multi billion charitable foundation that is in essence a corporate monopoly on collegiate athletics. And we’re to believe that they have the students’ best interests at heart ? That’s akin to saying Bin Laden has some remorse over the victims of 9/11.

    Alan Parkins

  10. Al… I’m not going to openly accuse USC of wrongdoing. I’ll just take things as they are.

    My program, Florida, could very well be down after we lose Tebow next year. Does that mean we’ve paid off our players because we’ll have three losses next year?

    God, I hope not.

    The Bush story has definitely been swept under the rug and whatever happens happens.

    The NCAA is as likely to strip USC of their titles as they are to strip Bobby Bowden of his wins.

    Such is college football.

  11. I think you’re just jealous ’cause Jesse James is getting with that and you’re not lol. I know I am.

    I’ve only seen the trailer, but Sandra looks smokin’ hot to me. As an actress, she’s not in Streep’s league, but who is? Her chops are servicable and I’ve always found her to be quite sexay.

    Oher’s story is amazing and I’m glad to see him starting on the Raven’s O line. They need to get better, tho. Looks like Bmore will be watching the playoffs instead of playing. Peace.

  12. Yaz… I’ll give her your number.

    Altho if you end up hanging with Sandy and mooching off her millions, you’re gonna have to get into some higher stakes poker games.

    I’m sure she’d bankroll for a cat like you.

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  15. OK… I do not care for Sandra Bullock movies… or her. That made me hesitant to go see this movie. But the fact that this is actually a factual depiction of what really took place made me want to see it more than my misgivings for SB. 12 hours later, I still am not sure if it was the movie or the actual story of these people… But, I am glad I saw this movie. It did have a few Hollywood scenes, but overall I give this a huge double thumbs up. Very touching. And… now I can never cheer against the Ravens or any team Michael plays for. You just can not do it.

  16. Kelly, well said.

    That’s exactly the way I felt about the movie going in.

    As I think I may have mentioned in some of the comments, I never read “Blind Side” but did swing by a local Barnes and Nobles on the way home after seeing the movie to see how close it was to the real thing.

    I found most of the scenes from the movie came directly from his book. It might be a worthy read if you really enjoyed the movie… as long as you can deal with Sandra Bullock’s recurring image every time you read about Leigh Anne Tuohy.

    Swing by any time.

  17. I enjoyed the movie and was able to ignore the overwhelming push to make Sandra Bullocks character the focus of the movie but then I was stunned at the emasculation comment at the end of the movie. What a piece of crap to throw into the mix and leave you with that. I wont be recommending the movie to anyone.

  18. Larry… I don’t recall the line you’re referring to but I think Leigh Ann Tuohy was a predominant figure it Oher’s life, which is why she was portrayed as such.

  19. Absolutely beautiful, inspiring and still entertaining. I love seeing it and recommend it for viewing. This film has lot to offer. Thanks a lot for this movie!

  20. Trent, or should I call you Double Down….

    Glad you enjoyed.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Sandra Bullock walks away with Best Actress tonight.

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