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'The Blind Side' Movie Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

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The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock

Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock in 'The Blind Side.'

© Warner Bros Pictures
Sandra Bullock is batting 2 for 3 in 2009, not a bad average for the actress/producer whose career now spans 20+ years. The Proposal proved Bullock's still adorable to watch in a romantic comedy. All About Steve showed the veteran actress isn't immune to selecting lousy projects to star in. Thankfully, with The Blind Side we can forget All About Steve, put the past behind us, and enjoy what Bullock is able to pull off as a blonde in a more dramatic turn.

Director John Lee Hancock is familiar with inspirational sports stories having helmed 2002's The Rookie, a baseball drama starring Dennis Quaid as a coach who gets a shot at the big leagues late in life. Like The Rookie, The Blind Side is a sweet story about not giving up and triumphing over adversity. But, and here's where The Blind Side stands apart from other such films, it's not saccharinely sweet. You won't get a toothache from sitting through this PG-13 drama based on true events. The Blind Side has lot of bite to it, thanks to Hancock's adaptation of Michael Lewis' book and Bullock's performance as Tuohy.

The Story

The Blind Side is based on the heartbreaking true story of now professional football player Michael Oher's sad upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee. As a teen, Michael (played brilliantly by Quinton Aaron) had no home to call his own, camping out on friends' couches or on the streets and struggling to get by day to day. When a friend's father gets him a spot at an exclusive school, Michael's a fish out of water. Even if he wasn't an imposing physical giant, Michael would stand out from his new classmates. His is the only African American face among a sea of upper class white Memphis teens, most of whom have no idea how to interact with him and opt to ignore this new, obviously out of his element, student.
Tim McGraw, Ray McKinnon and Sandra Bullock in 'The Blind Side.'

Tim McGraw, Ray McKinnon and Sandra Bullock in 'The Blind Side.'

© Warner Bros Pictures
One student who goes out of his way to say hello is young SJ Tuohy (Jae Head). SJ is an outgoing kid, unafraid of new experiences or of speaking his mind. That last trait is one he inherited from his interior designer mom, Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock). When Leigh Anne sees Michael walking alone at night in the rain, she demands to know where he's going and tells him not to dare lie to her. Michael admits he's off to the gym because it's warm and dry, and Leigh Anne insists they take him home with them. Leigh Anne always gets her way so her husband, Taco Bell franchise owner Sean (Tim McGraw), doesn't offer any resistance.

Michael's overwhelmed by the Tuohys lifestyle, but Leigh Anne and her family almost immediately treat him like family. They hire a tutor to get his grades up and push him toward playing football. Michael's size makes him an ideal candidate for the school's team, although Michael hasn't played the sport on an organized level before. Leigh Anne believes he's a natural for the position of left offensive tackle, the second most important position on the team. The left tackle protects the quarterback's blind side and with SJ's help, Michael slowly learns how to put his size and strength to good use.

But Michael's a gentle giant and it takes a motivational speech from Leigh Anne equating protecting the quarterback to protecting her and her children to get Michael to step up his game. And once he does, there's no stopping him. College recruiters pour into the school, Michael can pretty much write his own ticket, and the rest is NFL history.

The Cast

The brunette Bullock might have been the target for blonde jokes had she not delivered such an outstanding performance in The Blind Side. But we can forget the jokes as Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy as one tough cookie, a smart, sensitive, take no prisoners kind of woman who doesn't tolerate fools. Tim McGraw doesn't portray Sean as a shrinking violet, he's merely the less outspoken, less forceful partner in the marriage. The chemistry between McGraw and Bullock is impressive. The two come across as an old married couple who can read each other's minds, thanks to terrific performances and a smart script.

Jae Head, Lily Collins (as the daughter), and Quinton Aaron keep up with Bullock and McGraw, which is quite a task for the young actors who have less than a dozen film credits between them. Aaron's able to show an amazing amount of depth as an uneducated but not dumb young man who rises above his early upbringing to become a successful professional football player. And Oscar-winner Kathy Bates (Misery) is perfectly cast, stealing scenes as the tutor hired to bring Michael's grades up.

The Blind Side

A scene from 'The Blind Side.'

© Warner Bros Pictures

The Bottom Line

The entire cast is great, but it's really Bullock's performance that lifts The Blind Side above the typical sports drama. Bullock is ferocious as Leigh Anne, a real powerhouse of a woman who doesn't take no for an answer. It's a side of Bullock we haven't seen before on film, and The Blind Side really benefits from her ability to go there and not back down playing this woman who finds herself while helping out a homeless teen.

The Blind Side's a feel-good film that should attract both sexes due to the subject matter. There's gridiron action as well as fully developed characters in this compelling tale of family and football. To paraphrase a quote from an ex-NFL coach, The Blind Side is what we thought it would be, but it's also a whole lot more. Inspiring, heart-wrenching, warm, and funny, The Blind Side is a real winner.

GRADE: B

The Blind Side was directed by John Lee Hancock and is rated PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references.

Theatrical Release: Nov 20, 2009

Disclosure: This review is based on a screening provided by Warner Bros. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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