The Vision of 'The Blind Side'
“The Blind Side” is an amazing true-life story of the rich, white, Republican Tuohy family in Tennessee that adopted a homeless African-American kid named Michael Oher and made him a beloved member of their a family. Oher went on to become a professional football player.
The screenplay is both well written and well directed by John Lee Hancock, adapted from the book by Michael Lewis.
Quinton Aaron is exceptionally well cast as the homeless “gentle giant” the neighborhood kids call “Big Mike.” Aaron lost 100 pounds training for this role.
Tim McGraw continues to amaze as this famous country singer slips effortlessly into the role of Sean Tuohy. And the young actors Jae Head and Lily Collins play the Tuohy children wonderfully, with great love and humor.
But the film, from start to finish, belongs to Sandra Bullock, and deservedly so. She fully develops the character based on Leigh Anne Tuohy, who is a remarkable woman in her own right, to hear Bullock tell it.
“You just want to be in her wake,” Bullock said of Leigh Anne after a recent screening, with obvious respect and affection. It’s clear from the film and Bullock’s comments that Leigh Anne is the type of person who does not harbor the word “impossible” in her vocabulary.
I’ll be very surprised if Bullock does not receive an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of this interesting character.
While the focus of the film is on the developing relationship between Leigh Anne and Michael, the film is also about school systems all too quick to make judgments as to the relative ability of a kid based solely on past performance, without seeking an understanding of the factors that might have contributed to the poor performance.
When one teacher realizes Mike knows more than his test scores show, she encourages his other teachers to give him some extra attention, to give him the chance to show what he can really do, with mixed results.
These scenes reminded me of educational lessons learned from another wonderful film based on a true story that surfaced two years ago, “Freedom Writers,” about a schoolteacher in Long Beach, California, who took the time to understand why her kids were having such trouble learning. The more she understood their lives, the more they trusted her and delved into their studies. If only more teachers would learn this simple lesson.
When people give up on the kids, the kids give up on themselves. But if even one person fully believes in them, and works outside the box of the standard lesson plan to stimulate their interest, the same kids are capable of incredible intellectual growth.
“The Blind Side” blends pathos, suspense, tragedy, and humor seamlessly, while miraculously avoiding the trap of over-sentimentality.
This is a solidly entertaining, family friendly film that will probably spark a lot of interest in Michael Oher’s real life career. I’ve never been much of a football fan, but I definitely plan to keep an eye out for stories about him and his family in the future because of this film.
(Michael Oher, who played college football for the University of Mississippi, was a first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in this year’s National Football League draft. He plays offensive tackle and has become a starter in his rookie year.)
Lisa Pease is a historian and writer who specializes in the mysteries of the John F. Kennedy era. She is also a movie buff.
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