The Blind Side

The Blind Side (Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Arrow, Kathy Bates, Jae Head) – Beware of spoilers!  Michael Oher (pronounced like “oar”) was selected in the first round of the NFL draft and is the starting left tackle for the Baltimore Colts, protecting “the blind side” of quarterback Joe Flacco.  His back-story has been the subject of legend since Michael Lewis’ book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, was released in 2006.  Thanks to Mary Lewinski, I got the book as a present and read this account of a boy from the streets and the ‘hood in Memphis who made it to the big time … barely.   Oher was a kid lost in the system.  His mother couldn’t handle him or decided not to.  He slept in the streets from before he was a teenager.  He occasionally bunked in with friends but rarely slept in the same place two nights in a row.  He was in and out of school, never tested well and was lost in an educational system not ready to handle a huge kid with a learning disability.  Oher was the kind of kid most of us never hear about or don’t want to.  And he was headed to a life of God knows what when a rich couple took him in, saw his potential, got him a tutor and gave him the chance to shine both on the football field and in the classroom.  Movies are never as good as the book.  And this one is no exception.  The movie struggles to get too gritty so it stays light and breezy.  Sandra Bullock, as ex-cheerleader, socialite Leigh Anne Touhy, is protective, tough, and altruistic.  Tim McGraw, as a former Ole’ Miss basketball star and fast food chain magnate Sean Touhy, is supportive but secondary to his wife.  That isn’t true in the book when Sean played the more dominant role.

The film is very enjoyable (and I might have given away too much).  It does lack some of the tension of the book, which tells the story from the perspective of the editor of a scouting newsletter who “finds” Oher playing at a private school and brings him to the attention of every major Division IA college.  The movie is enjoyable but could have been much better.  As Oher, Quinton Arrow is likable; in fact, more likable than the kid described by Michael Lewis.  Arrow is now 25, and he does appear a bit old for the part.  But he is absolutely huge.  I can see the casting call requirement: “African American kid 6’4” or taller, over 300 pounds, with experience playing football.  Acting experience preferred.”  Arrow fits the part, has previous acting credits and he does well here.  But it’s young actor, Jae Head, who has lots of TV credits and appeared in Hancock, who steals the movie as the Toughys’ little son, SJ.  His and Arrow’s scenes together are the best in the film.  It is virtually impossible not to like this movie.  It is just too bad director John Lee Hancock, who directed the baseball movie, The Rookie (with Dennis Quaid), took the safe way out.

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