He Said: The Blind Side
By D. James Ruccio III
December 10, 2009
Sports at their core can be a basis for dramatic representations. What occurs during a sporting event can be steeped in the entire spectrum of emotions. This means that the contests themselves and the people involved are frequently mined for material. The Blind Side is the deceptively simple story of Michael Oher, an African-American man, who as a boy lived a life of near destitution until he met Leigh Anne Tuohy, who took him into her family.
Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock, is an interior decoratin', affluent Southern woman who seems to rule all she surveys with plucky charm and an indomitable, relentless spirit.
Meanwhile, Oher grew up in a family run by a single, crack-addicted mother, while his estranged father was brutally murdered when he was a senior in high school. He attended 11 schools in his first nine years as a student while in various foster homes and periods of homelessness.
The movie is based on the book, The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game by Michael Lewis. The book apparently uses the story of Michael Oher to demonstrate the evolution of offensive strategy and the emergence of the position of left tackles in football, especially with the appearance of Lawrence Taylor, who dominated games with his revolutionary set of skills at linebacker. This is entirely jettisoned in the movie, however, in favor of a straight telling of the story of Michael Oher.
The story follows an absolutely predictable straight line to the Feel Good End-Zone and never once deviates from it. Like the largest of linemen, it wraps the audience up in its best of intentions, charges down field and never, ever looks back. It's this unwavering intent on a destination that unfortunately saps much of the movie and its impressive origins of any dramatic impact. Some of the messy details are omitted such as the fact that his high school coach, who was instrumental in his admission into Briarcrest Christian School, was given a position at the University of Mississippi three weeks after Oher agreed to attend the school. Although he was cleared of any wrong doing related to Oher's admission, he was charged by the NCAA of steering other area prospects to the school. The movie floats above these unpleasant realities in an attempt presumably to maintain its family-friendly themes.
It comes with the expected touches of any good sports film, like an overly sweet training sequence featuring Tuohy's young son S. J., played by predictably precocious Jae Head or a dramatic demonstration of Oher's power and skill against a taunting aggressor. Kathy Bates appears as "Miss Sue" seemingly out of nowhere as some sort of Fairy Godmother and Super Tutor and rescues Oher's academic career. There is the gaggle of Tuohy's friends who snicker at her intentions and question her actions. Each of these sports movie prerequisites are checked like some imaginary list on a clipboard.
The secondary characters (read: anyone not Michael Oher or Leigh Anne Tuohy) are played adequately but all serve to prop up the story behind the two main protagonists.