Feel-good movies are making their way into the theaters, and The Blind Side definitely fits this category. Based on the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis, the story of a homeless man taken in by an affluent family is the life-changing event that helped turn Michael Oher into an All-American football star.
Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), a lively Memphis socialite, has her life -- and also her family’s life -- under control. A successful interior decorator, Leigh Ann and her family own a fast-food restaurant chain which her husband, Sean (Tim McGraw), runs. Naturally, the Tuohy kids, Collins (Lily Collins) and S.J. (Jae Head), want for nothing, but they’re studious kids who have learned some valuable lessons from their parents -- mainly not to discriminate.
As the Tuohys are driving one evening in the pouring rain, Leigh Ann tells Sean to stop the car when she notices a big African American man walking in the freezing rain without a coat. The kids tell her Michael (Quinton Aaron) goes to their school, but hardly talks. She insists on taking Michael home for the evening and letting him sleep on the couch. When Sean checks into how this uneducated boy got into a private school, he learns Coach Cotton (Ray McKinnon) saw Michael’s skills with a basketball and hoped to use him on their ailing football team.
Michael is soon accepted with open arms as one of the Tuohy family members, even getting his own bed which he has never had. Each Tuohy plays an amazing part in Michael’s new life. Leigh Ann tries to find out about his real life; Collins sticks up for him when others make fun of him at school; and Sean makes sure he remains current with school requirements. The biggest outreach, and one of the funnier scenes in the movie are when S. J., about one fourth of Michael’s size, becomes his football coach helping him to work out, timing his play speeds and pushing him to excel. Leigh Ann also hires Mrs. Boswell (Kathy Bates) to tutor Michael so they can get him into a college on a football scholarship.
John Lee Hancock (The Rookie) directs and wrote the heartwarming screenplay. Michael Oher’s real life story is amazing, but it still takes skill to turn it into a compelling movie that’s not too sappy. Hancock, aided by a great cast, delivers on that point with no problem.
Quinton Aaron carries his first lead role well. Even though he has little dialogue, his character is a very emotional one, and Aaron has no problem making us believe Michael’s ups and downs. Bullock appears in full form as the dominate but likeable Leigh Ann. We cringed at Bullock’s role in All About Steve, and sighed at The Proposal. With The Blind Side, Bullock is back and better than we’ve seen her in a long time.
“It was terrifying to think of playing her, but it was a challenge I couldn’t say no to,” Bullock said. “She’s such an amazing person.”
McGraw, Bates, and Collins fully portray their characters, but it’s Jae Head (Hancock) who puts smiles on faces and brings heart to the story. He’s terrific as the half-pint who becomes a soul mate to a gentle giant. And sports fans will enjoy scenes with real-life college coaches, including Lou Holtz, Phil Fulmer, Tom Lemming, Ed Orgeron, Franklin "Pepper" Rodgers, Nick Saban, Tommy Tuberville and Houston Nutt.
This movie opens eyes about discrimination while offering a remarkable view of what a true helping hand can do -- such as making the difference between a homeless bum and a sports icon. The Blind Side is a great, uplifting family film.
(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated “PG-13” for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.