Based on the extraordinary true story.
The Blind Side is a 2009 biographical sports-drama film directed by John Lee Hancock, written by John Lee Hancock, produced by Alcon Entertainment, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based on the 2006 novel, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, which, in turn, is based on the life of Michael Oher. It stars Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron. The film was nominated for and won Best Actress (Bullock) and Best Picture.
Family Dynamic / Michael and Leigh Anne / First Game / Realism of Football / Racism and Assuming Michael is Stupid / Ole Miss Accusations / Sandra Bullock / Final Score
"Don't you dare lie to me." -Leigh Anne Tuohy
Michael Oher is a homeless black teen that is admitted to a rich, Christian private school. When Leigh Anne Tuohy bumps into him on the sidewalk, the two create an unlikely bond as she takes him into her home. As Michael becomes more comfortable in his new society, he begins to gain interest in football and eventually begins attracting the eyes of college and NFL coaches.
The family dynamic is the glue that holds this movie together. At the center of the film is the character relationships between everyone in the Tuohy family and Michael. Even the relationships outside of the family are great. Sue and Michael have a funny relationship. Leigh Anne is constantly interrupting the coach and helping out the football team. The guys in the hood have a certain view of Michael that is very different than everybody else in the movie. Everyone has an interesting relationship with each other, and it's strongest inside of the Tuohy family. This makes it so that you are never exactly bored with the film, despite it moving at a very slow pace.
Michael and Leigh Anne
At the center of the glue is the relationship that the movie is about: Michael Oher and Leigh Anne Tuohy. The saying opposites attract really fits here. Michael is a big, poor black kid that doesn't really talk to people, while Leigh Anne is a small, rich white woman that is very loud and adamant about her wants and needs. They are polar opposites, yet they work together and have a fantastic relationship. This is where the script (which I'm shocked was not nominated for an Oscar) is at its best. Some of the dialogue between them is so touching and poignant, giving the audience the feels.
This is where I will go into specific plot points. I thought that the first game was a really good gateway into football. It was a storyline in and of itself: it had a setup (#66 taunting Michael), it had a rising action (Michael screwing up and letting defenders get by), and it had a climax with great payoff (Michael shoving #66 over the wall), and even some kind of epilogue (The montage of the rest of the game). Mind you, this all takes place in ten minutes, but it's a pretty enjoyable sequence. However, after this is when the movie loses its footing a bit and starts to go downhill.
Realism of Football
I usually don't harp on biographical movies for being unrealistic, but I cannot really let The Blind Side slide. The film does not get a shred of credibility for its portrayal of football. A ton of college coaches just show up at one of the practices, see Michael block in one play, and then all want to recruit him? It's ridiculous! There are a couple of other instances that weren't even close to what happens in real life, but that was the big one. If it weren't such a big plot beat, I'd be okay with it, but football and colleges scouting Michael is what drives the second half of the film. Overall, I do think that the football part of the story was significantly weaker than the family aspect, and this contributed to that big time.
Racism and Assuming Michael Is Stupid
And I gotta call this movie out for the subtle racism. The film portrays Michael Oher as this blank-minded teddy bear that has a very low IQ and is always being helped out by the white people in his life. There are a few times were he fends for himself, but a lot of them, Leigh Anne or SJ come to the rescue and he is pulled out of a situation. My mom pointed some of this out to me, and it is pretty upsetting. They act as though he doesn't know what football is, which, in reality, is not the case. The real Michael Oher is not as dumb and blank as he is portrayed in this movie. Not at all.
Ole Miss Accusations
This is the worst part of the movie. Near the end, Michael gets in trouble with the NCAA because they are assuming that the Tuohy family has just taken Michael in to eventually send him to Ole Miss and have their college team win. And Michael, because he is stupid in this movie, totally buys it. This. Is. The. Stupidest. Subplot. Ever. I'm sorry, but it is. There is no way on the planet that anyone would make that accusation, and there is an even less chance that somebody would actually believe that the accusation made was true. This was definitely thrown into the script as a last-ditch effort to give the film some conflict. It can't all be happy, and Michael has to get mad at Leigh Anne at some point, so this was shoehorned into the script. There are so many better ways to create an obstacle in a movie. This was not the route to take.
And, finally, we have to talk about the Oscar-winning performance that Sandra Bullock gives. She is truly great in this movie...but I do not think she was deserving of an Oscar win. Maybe, just maybe, she deserved a nomination, but I have seen better performances that were not nominated. Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Tom Hanks in Apollo 13. Not to say that she was bad. This is still an incredible performance. I just don't think she was on the next level that is needed to win the Academy Award.
The Blind Side definitely has its problems, but, at the end of the day, the characters, script, and relationships carry it to a positive rating from me.
It gets a Savory rating. Age range is 7+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
"The Blind Side"
Fun Factor: 6.5/10
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Rated PG-13 for minor violence, thematic elements
Released on November 20, 2009
2 hours and 9 minutes
Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy
Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher
Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy
Jae Head as SJ Tuohy
Lily Collins as Collins Tuohy
Kathy Bates as Miss Sue
Ray McKinnon as Coach Cotton
Kim Dickens as Mrs. Boswell Adriane Lenox as Denise Oher