Movie Review: The Blind Side (2009)

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Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Photo: Warner Bros.

In an attempt at full disclosure, I saw the trailers for The Blind Side and had little hope it could be any good. I walked in expecting yet another sappy melodrama featuring a poor black kid saved by a rich white person story. In reality, that’s exactly what this film is, but it’s executed on a level where it isn’t as dreadful as one would assume, or the trailers would lead you to believe. As a matter of fact, it’s actually pretty good.

I will also tell you there wasn’t a single woman I met that wasn’t looking forward to this movie. Any conversation I had with a female about movies inevitably led to the question, “What do you think about The Blind Side?” Even those that would poke fun at the trailer were still excited to see it. Seeing the exact same trailers I had seen, the words obviously spoke a different language to members of the opposite sex. But I’m convinced no matter what side of the gender pool you wade on, most people will come out of this film duly entertained.

The Blind Side is about Leigh Anne Touhy, the rich white woman played by Sandra Bullock who takes in a homeless young black man named Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). It’s based on a true story as Oher becomes a part of the Touhy family and then goes on to get drafted in the NFL. Complications do arise, all of which are addressed in this movie based on the book by Michael Lewis, but not to the point it ever becomes overly melodramatic or even remotely challenging.

Writer/director John Lee Hancock wrote a script that avoids the trappings of a typical story of this sort, just as much as it avoids any kind of real risk. This film is as safe as they come in an effort to appeal to the broadest audience possible. I’m not complaining as much as audiences looking for risk-taking fare should look elsewhere, The Blind Side is as vanilla as they come.

On the bright side, even when the plot demands a melodramatic beat, such as an unfortunate accident or the inevitable misunderstanding, Hancock doesn’t dwell on it as much as he allows for each situation to resolve itself naturally and without too much time spent pondering the sadness of it all. Instead this film focuses on the positive and is meant to be more uplifting than it hopes to be emotionally devastating.

Bullock is the number one standout and it may be simply due to the fact every awful sound bite used in the trailer is part of a much larger, well thought out statement. Bullock’s Memphis accent grated on me in the trailers as each clip used seemed to emphasize the accent and whatever catch phrase was being said. But when heard in context with the rest of her dialogue it comes across perfectly natural and understood. She plays the part as well as one could hope.

Aaron plays Oher with a quiet reserve, but in such a way that when he finally does open up it isn’t unexpected as much as it slowly becomes a natural character progression. He’s countered by Bullock’s young son played by Brian Hollan, who is far more witty than his age would actually lead us to believe he could be, but he delivers a NASCAR line that brings down the house.

The Blind Side was a welcomed surprise, especially considering everything I thought could potentially be wrong with the movie ended up making for some of the more enjoyable moments. Bullock’s performance is most likely the best I’ve ever seen from her and makes me wonder why she insists on continuing down that terrible rom-com path she has dug for her career when she has the money to produce much more worthwhile efforts. Tim McGraw as her husband and Lily Collins as her daughter also bring something special to the Touhy family unit making for a perfect film to see with the coming Thanksgiving holidays.

GRADE: B