While the masses of Tweeners and Twi-hards were whipped to a frenzy waiting in line for Twilight, I chose a quieter route seeing The Blind Side. From the trailer, The Blind Side looked to be a sentimental mix involving foster care, survival, and football- and it is exactly that.
Based on a true story, the movie begins with gentle giant, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), as a 17 year old wandering through life in the streets of Memphis. Through circumstance, he befriends a young boy named SJ that soon leads him to modern southern belle, Leigh Ann Touhy (Sandra Bullock). Having compassion on his homelessness, Touhy invites him into her home and eventually into the life of her family. His athletic potential is quickly realized and he becomes a football phenomenon. I don’t want to spoil where the story goes so I can’t go into too much detail. However, the basic premise of this movie is nothing revolutionary; poor black athletic kid meets rich, well-meaning family. Achievement and tender moments ensue.
And this is a tender movie with multiple tear jerking moments. It’s careful not to be too heavy-handed but it’s enough to make you feel compassion and sadness for anyone stuck in the foster care system or is homeless. It’s not too emotionally draining but it’s thought-provoking enough to make you feel deeper than your average movie. There were plenty of opportunities when it could have been more gritty or disturbing but it opted for you to use your imagination instead. Unlike another similar movie like Precious, The Blind Side takes a optimistic approach on this very serious problem of kids lost in the system. All the characters involved, while uniformed, are basically good-natured and are willing to help Oher through his journey of self discovery.
Sandra Bullock does an exceptional job in this role. She is brash, bold, outspoken, and tough. Her conversion from ‘desperate housewife’ to passionate advocate is a convincing one. It’s probably Bullock’s best roles in years. I was concerned in the trailer if she could fit in this type of role. Surprisingly, she made this movie. I heard multiple women friends say ‘I wish I could be more like her!’. That sounds like a pretty good compliment. The rest of the cast is there to just support and serve the two principle characters and they do a fine job. Young, up and comer, Jae Head does a great job as comic relief as the wise cracking, younger brother. He steals some of the scene with his cuteness and accelerated vocabulary.
My only complaint of The Blind Side was that it felt a little long by the end. They could have trimmed 15 minutes off and it would have felt better. The movies message is loud and clear and it provides a lot of hope for those considering opening their home to others. Personally, my family is currently waiting an adoption placement, so this movie struck home to us.
This is a great holiday movie to see with your family or friends. It has a broad spectrum of appeal from the journey of adoption to the hard-hitting football story. The credits roll with pictures of the real Touhy family which helps to seal the emotional experience and put a smile on your face.
You can read about deeper reflections about The Blind Side on my Creative Leadership blog