THE BLIND SIDE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Sandra Bullock,
Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Jae Head, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon, Kathy Bates
Director: John Lee Hancock
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 128 Minutes
Release Date: March 23, 2010
“You're changing that boy's life.”
“No...he's changing MINE.”
I suppose there's a very simple reason why so many movies get made about underdogs making good; no matter how many of them you see, they still always move you. The Blind Side tells the story of a young man who could have easily fallen through the cracks and been just another forgotten soul, and how a family who took a chance on him, believed in him and loved him showed him that it didn't matter where he came from. As long as he worked hard, believed, and looked forward, he could (and did) accomplish amazing things.
Michael Oher (Aaron, in a most impressive debut) was a poor kid from the projects. He barely remembered his father, he was taken from his drug abusing mother at a young age, and he rarely spoke. The only standout thing about him was his intimidating height and weight that belied his gentle nature. A Christian school coach (McKinnon) took a chance on getting him enrolled because he felt Michael might have some athletic potential, but his grades were poor, as were his aptitude tests. There was only one he scored extremely high on...protective instincts.
He meets the Tuohy family one night, and no-nonsense matriarch Leigh Anne (Bullock, in her Oscar winning role), realizing he had no place to sleep, offers her couch. As her heart warms to the quiet and misunderstood youngster, her interest grows. She even hires a tutor named Miss Sue (the always wonderful Bates), who helps get his grades up enough to finally try and play some football.
With the help of husband Sean (McGraw, who seems to appear in every football-themed movie out there, and is great in every one), son S.J. (the very funny Head), and daughter Collins (Collins, easy to remember), Michael begins to learn the game...slowly at first, but Leigh Anne knows where his heart is: protecting people. In other words, Michael is the ideal offensive tackle...the man who will make sure nobody gets to his quarterback or his tight end.
The first game, in which Michael quickly evolves from an awkward fit to an absolute one man wrecking machine is as thrilling and inspiring as any I've seen. When a trash-talking defensive lineman finally gets driven all the way down field and over the fence, you want to cheer. “Where were you taking him?” the incredulous coach asks. “The bus,” Michael answers smilingly. “It was time for him to go home.”
Michael Oher did indeed triumph over adversities, as he officially became a member of the Tuohy family. He protected them and they protected him, and perhaps the most moving part of the film for me was during the end credits, seeing the photos of the real Michael and his family, and seeing that the love we felt between them during the movie was as real as it gets.
If not the credits, then just before, when we see the real 2009 NFL draft footage when Michael was taken by the Baltimore Ravens. It was a moment of spectacular triumph, and of course, under the national spotlight and in front of cheering football fans everywhere, his family was there by his side.
This is a remarkable cast, led by both Quinton Aaron who proves a talented and impressive young find and Sandra Bullock, who finally got the credit she deserved for her talents, reflecting the strength and devotion of the real Leigh Anne Tuohy in every frame. When she confronts some gang members who are after her new son, you get the feeling it isn't just a piece of Hollywood embellishment...you realize nobody messes with this woman.
Roger Ebert has famously said that he rarely cries at movies anymore, and on the sparse occasion when he does, he finds its because he's reacting to goodness instead of sadness. The Blind Side is a movie about goodness, and about good people who bring out the best in each other until they reach the kind of heights many only dream about.
Even though it may not be as demanding of HD as an action film, I was still thoroughly impressed and pleased with this Blu-ray offering, which maintained a sense of striking detail, color balance and clarity throughout. Daylit scenes work just as nicely as the darker ones under the stadium lights.
The DTS HD soundtrack is mostly driven by dialogue, but a few big game scenes open up the front and rear stages a little more and add some welcomed dynamic range. The spoken words are clean and clear throughout, and nicely balanced.
The disc includes an interview with the real Michael Oher, as well as multipart interviews with Sandra Bullock and the real Leigh Anne Tuohy, and director/screenwriter John Lee Hancock with author Michael Lewis. There is also a look at the many real-life SEC coaches who lent a hand playing themselves in the film, as well as one on the terrific debut of Quinton Aaron. Rounding out are four deleted scenes.
So once again, I sat down to an underdog-triumphs movie based on a true story, and once again, I remembered why I love almost every one of them. The Blind Side is a moving and affecting movie that will have you cheering in your own home theatre for one remarkable man and one remarkable family.