I suspected, after reading Megan Basham’s review (excerpted below), that the film The Blind Side would be worth seeing. So Adrianne and I went this weekend, and we were truly blindsided by a film abundantly rich in its humanity and unabashedly Christian in its underpinnings — a modern day object lesson in Luke 10:25-37 and Matthew 25:31-47.
Not only that, it’s a true story.
You can read the synopsis of the plot below. What that won’t tell you is that Sandra Bullock (commanding and authentic, in what critic Elias Savada called “Her finest performance. Ever.”) and Quinton Aaron (in an appropriately understated but amazingly subtle and nuanced performance) will steal your heart away. There are plenty of Kleenex moments, but this cinematic stew has been well seasoned with its fair share of laugh-out-loud humor as well. (You can watch the trailer at the bottom of this article.)
Its moderate Metacritic rating (53) reflects the fact that it was admired by those who accept (and often approve of) the film’s message and intent, while it was panned by those (often mainstream) critics who feel every film must address “pervasive racism in America” every time a Black actor appears in a major role. (For example, there are these criticisms: “[The movie] begs off any serious investigation of race.” and “This sports drama never strays from the surface, never exploring more complicated socioeconomic and racial issues.”) The film’s appropriate race-blind perspective is summed up brilliantly by Director John Lee Hancock: “Leigh Anne Touhy didn’t stop that car to pick up that kid because he was African-American. She stopped that car to pick up that kid because he was cold.”
In its third weekend, The Blind Side did what few movies do — it has climbed to the top spot in the box office rankings after two weekends in second place. Clearly, news of the innate beauty, charm, and inspiration of this film is spreading. Do yourself a favor and take your family to see it.
The Blind Side
METACRITIC RATING: 53
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Running Time: 126 minutes
Rated: PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references
Teenager Michael Oher [pronounced “oar”] is surviving on his own, virtually homeless, when he is spotted on the street by Leigh Anne Tuohy. Learning that the young man is one of her daughter’s classmates, Leigh Anne insists that Michael — wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the dead of winter — come out of the cold. Without a moment’s hesitation, she invites him to stay at the Tuohy home for the night. What starts out as a gesture of kindness turns into something more as Michael becomes part of the Tuohy family despite the differences in their backgrounds. Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. And as the family helps Michael fulfill his potential, both on and off the football field, Michael’s presence in the Tuohy’s lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own. (Warner Bros.
World Magazine Megan Basham (excerpts from her extended review):
After the screening [of the film], many critics were, like me, dabbing their eyes and shared my feeling that The Blind Side is a classic old Hollywood-style film that is well-written, nicely-paced, and wonderfully acted, in addition to being hilarious and heart-warming. After all, it’s a movie about the best in humanity and how, if those who are blessed with financial and spiritual resources reach out and share those blessings, they can change the course of someone’s life for good. What’s not to cheer about that?
[Predictably, not all critics agreed, including a friend of this Basham whose world view is “diametrical opposite” from hers.] “It’s formulaic,” he opined. I countered: “Why, because it is about an athlete overcoming great odds to reach even greater success? There are countless movies about singers/actors/painters who drink and drug themselves to death. They are all also true stories. We don’t call them formulaic. We give them Oscars.”
My friend had another objection. “It’s racist,” he argued. How so? “It’s about a black man who can only succeed if a white woman saves him.” Yet, I answered, it’s also what actually happened. If the story were about a white woman who passed a freezing black kid by, would it then not be racist? I put the question to [the film’s director John Lee] Hancock.
“There will always be a certain camp that will say, ‘Oh, it’s paternalism; its white guilt; it’s another one of those stories that says an African-American can’t make it on his own.’ I think it’s all balderdash,” said Hancock. “Leigh Anne Touhy didn’t stop that car to pick up that kid because he was African-American. She stopped that car to pick up that kid because he was cold.”
Hancock then echoed my own belief that some viewers are contemptuous of emotionally uplifting story arcs no matter how based in reality: “I think some people are so cynical that anytime they find themselves moved, they turn around and go, ‘You must have manipulated me.’ And of course there’s the hip, cool quotient. If some people in the film community think I don’t have street cred because I try to make honest, moving films, then fine. If they want to call it corny, fine. This is a great story, and it’s a true story. If what the Touhys did is somehow corny, I hope there are a lot more corny people out there.”
Notes from Grover:
(1) This last picture above is of the real Michael Oher, with his family, on the day he was a first-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens.
(2) Below is the trailer for The Blind Side: