Theatrical Review: THE BLIND SIDE
Writers: John Lee Hancock (screenplay), Michael Lewis (book)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Kathy Bates
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
THE BLIND SIDE tells the real-life story of Michael Oher, the pro football player who, in 2009, was a top round draft pick in the NFL. But Oher wasn't always on top of his game. As a boy from a rough part of inner-city Memphis, Oher was taken from his drug-addicted mother and placed into foster home after foster home.
That was until Leigh Anne Touhy (Sandra Bullock) takes Oher in, making him one of her own. With the help of Touhy, her husband (Tim McGraw), and her two children (Jae Head & Lily Collins), Oher experiences what it is like to feel unconditional love and support, helping him to achieve what was previously thought unachievable. In the process, Touhy and her family experience what it is like to live life outside the air-tight bubble of upper class suburbia. In this game of life, both teams are the champions.
It is important to note that, upon first seeing the trailer, THE BLIND SIDE appeared to be filled with every Hollywood convention possible, all packed in to a nice little coming-of-age box with a pretty inspirational bow. I hardened myself to the idea of the film even being remotely good. Sandra Bullock's Southern twang came off like a bad impression of Sarah Palin - Exhibit A: "You threaten my son, you threaten me." Yes, I'll admit I walked into the theater with a pre-conceived judgment about what I was about to see. I'll also admit that this is not the same place I found myself walking in while walking out of that same theater.
As much as I may hate to admit it, Bullock's Southern twang, within the whole context of her character, becomes an endearing quality to her firecracker, no bull shit attitude. Yes, even the delivery of that line feels more genuine within the whole film, as Bullock firmly declares it to a group of gang members proceeded by essentially telling them that she will bust a cap in their asses. The real MVP of the film is Quinton Aaron, who captures Oher's somber mood and caring nature with virtually no lines throughout the whole film. Instead he wears it on his face, in his smile, and on his shoulders, which appear to bear the weight of his troubled world.
In the end, I expected to see every tired old formation in the playbook with THE BLIND SIDE. Little did I know that Hancock and company were going to pull a Flea Flicker. Instead, what I saw was a tale of inspiration, showing just what the power of love and acceptance can encourage someone to do or the heights it can take them in the face of adversity. While this combination may come with a side of cheese, that is to be expected and maybe even ordered at times.
After all, that's part of the reason that audiences flock to these films - RUDY, REMEMBER THE TITANS, etc. It's the very reason many watch sports week after week, often as die hard, devoted fans. They're watched to be inspired. To be encouraged. To see a side of life that is completely positive and filled with hope. To see a Hail Mary every once in awhile, in a world filled with incomplete passes. When it comes to those things, THE BLIND SIDE is a touchdown.
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