Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Blind Side (2009) - Get Ready to Tear Up

On the Menu: THE BLIND SIDE (2009); Blockbuster Rental DVD

Ingredients: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Jae Head, Lily Collins and Kathy Bates. Directed by John Lee Hancock. Run time: 129 minutes. Rated: PG-13.

At First Bite: I love Sandra Bullock. I love sports movies. Plus, it was nominated for Best Picture, so I figured I should see it once I had the opportunity.

As a child, Michael Oher (Aaron) was taken away from his crack-addict mother. He ran away from foster parents, and ended up sleeping wherever he could find warmth, e.g. a friend's couch.

One of those friends helps Michael get into a mostly-white private school because of his size and athletic ability. His grades are lousy, but it's because his former teachers just passed him through the system. His teachers at this new school don't think he's smart enough to be there. None of the kids seem to want anything to do with him.

Socialite Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) and her family pick up Michael one night as he's walking down the street. They take him in and teach him about football... and family.

Tough to Swallow: The only problem I had with this dramatization of a true story is the issue of racism isn't really covered. Sure, Leigh Anne's friends show their ignorance at lunch, but that's pretty much it. Collins, the daughter, tells her mom kids are being "juvenile," but that's as far as it goes. You can't tell me Hollywood didn't sugarcoat it. REMEMBER THE TITANS is a Disney film, and it wasn't afraid to show things how they were.

The passage of scripture on the archway at the fictional Wingate Christian School reads, "With man this is possible, With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26 reads, "... with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." [italics are mine]

When Michael gets his first C+ in biology, his name is spelled "Micheal" on the test paper.

On his history test, the first question asks where the Battle of Waterloo took place. Michael's answer of "Germany" is marked correct.

During Coach Phil Fulmer's visit, he refers to Sean, Jr. by S.J. the first time he talks to him, but then calls him C.J. when ending their conversation.

Something to Chew On: Julia Roberts was offered the role of Leigh Ann Tuohy, but turned it down.

Briarcrest Christian High School is the actual school Michael and the Tuohys attended, but administrators didn't want the school's name to be used because they didn't like how the teachers were portrayed in the script (doubting Michael's intelligence and capability to learn).

Michael Lewis, the author of the book, told Fox Sports News that Oher wasn't pleased with how the film portrayed him as "idiotic." Oher did not attend any of the film's premieres or the Oscars.

Leigh Anne Tuohy was an interior decorator for former-Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey. There's a scene in the film where she is on the phone talking about him.

A handful of former college coaches play themselves, e.g. Phil Fulmer, Nick Saban, Lou Holtz and Tommy Tuberville.

The film currently has a 7.7 user rating on IMDb.com (31,075 votes).

Sides: This rental version has no special features. But, hey, even the retail version only has deleted scenes. So, to me, that seems like the bigger rip-off.

Aftertaste: The movie opens by showing a clip from a Redskins game. Awesome. Sure, it's the game where Theismann's career was shattered by LT, but you can't be choosy. As a 'Skins fan, I don't have a lot to cheer about nowadays other than the signing of Donovan McNabb.

There aren't necessarily a lot of football scenes, which is disappointing. However, this film is more about the drama. For the story it's trying to tell, the movie doesn't need to be longer than 2 hours, but it is. Oher has stated he wasn't totally inexperienced when he started playing football, so maybe more time could have been spent on his childhood, relationship with his brother or any racism he faced once joining the Tuohy family, instead of showing workouts and practices.

Bullock is the best part of the whole thing. I don't really know how much of a stretch it was for a Southerner to play a Southerner. Maybe the tough part was Tuohy is also a Republican and devout Christian. Even so, this is Bullock's ERIN BROCKOVICH.

The movie does what it intends to do: tug on the heartstrings. I must admit I got teary-eyed a couple of times. It has a good message and one great performance, but I don't think it should have been nominated for Best Picture.

Rating:

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