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The Blind Side (2009)

Starring:

Adriane Lenox

Jae Head

Kathy BatesKathy Bates

Kim Dickens

Lily Collins

Quinton Aaron

Ray McKinnon

Sandra BullockSandra Bullock

Tim McGraw

Directed by:

John Lee Hancock

Rating: 8/10

I kind of dismissed The Blind Side when I first saw the trailers, as it looked a bit like one of those sentimental do-gooder movies where there’s a poor kid and an inspirational, can-do message. Then there was talk of Sandra Bullock and Oscars—huh?—so I checked it out. Turns out, it sort of is what I expected, but it’s so well made and acted that any trace of over-sap is erased and you find yourself going to Google afterward to find out what’s happened since the end of the “story.”

Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) is a tiny blonde force to be reckoned with, so when she spots “Big Mike” Oher (Quinton Aaron) walking home in the dark, cold and alone, she takes him in for the night. Well, soon, he’s a part of the family, and though the Tuohys weren’t expecting to have a new teenage black son, they’ve got one, much to the shock of their very white upper-class friends. This is a true story based on the life of NFL star Michael Oher, currently right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.

As is usually true with stories of real life, The Blind Side has its share of clichéd moments—Leigh Anne tells off her snobby friends when they start disparaging Michael, Leigh Anne tells off the hoods who hang around outside Michael’s old apartment, Michael goes “home” again, only to find himself in a dangerous situation—but for some reason that seems to defy movie logic, these are all also some of the best scenes. It’s not as if there’s going to be some big original twist to the plot, seeing as it’s based on life and all, but it doesn’t matter. Bullock really does put in some of her best ever work here as the somewhat overbearing Leigh Anne, and Tim McGraw as her ever-loving husband Sean never comes off as weak (believe me, he could’ve seemed like a hen-pecked mess). Aaron is the perfect Michael, who says so much with his face in the first half of the film that he doesn’t need dialogue, and Kathy Bates as tutor Miss Sue sure knows how to tell a scary story. The one cliché that’s hard to get past is the “smart-mouthed but cute kid” thing, exemplified by Jae Head’s S.J.—it’s hard to decide if he’s funny or annoying, but much of his dialogue sounds like lines written by someone trying really hard to make a funny kid character. It’s a minor complaint, but he has a pretty big role, and sometimes it feels like he’s being forced in to the action as some sort of comic relief. All in all, though, he’s forgivable, and even with its stereotypes and clichés, The Blind Side feels like spending time with friends you’ll miss when they’re not around.

It's Got: Outstanding performances, Memorable football scene, Kathy Bates talking about dead bodies

It Needs: Less S.J., More Collins interaction

Alternatives:

Jerry Maguire, Rudy, Stand and Deliver

Summary

Sure it’s got some clichés and flaws, but The Blind Side also has some of the best performances of the year and is compelling all the way through.