Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Blind Side

Clear to the left, clear to the right, without a sound it came around, hit me on the blind side.  Look to the front, look to the back, down for the count, I'll tell you how, hit me on the blind side.  And though I could see the truth staring right at me.  Well, I did not ready myself for the blind side.  -- "Blind Side" by Susan Ashton

Sandra Bullock is having quite a year.  First, "The Proposal" does monster business, everyone I know that has seen it just loves it, and I gave it quite a glowing review on this here website (you can also see my own list of favorite Sandy B movies).

Secondly, the movie "All About Steve" was released, a movie actually set for release in April, but was pushed back to September, so it would be after people had fallen for Bradley Cooper in "The Hangover" and fallen again for Sandy Bullock in "The Proposal".  Well, "All About Steve" got terrible reviews, it was painted as an incredibly awful movie... but several people I know that went to see it said they thought it wasn't that bad.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I never got around to seeing it but... (just took a second and added it to our Netflix Queue, discovering it will be released on 12/22). 

And now, "The Blind Side" has come to theaters.  We've been seeing the trailer for this flick for a few months, and The Lovely Steph Leann would always lean over and whisper, "I want to see that movie."  So, when it was released, we had to go see it. 

I knew the basic story--Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Ann Touhy, a well-to-do wife in Memphis, TN, with a husband, Sean (a surprisingly good Mr. Faith Hill), and two children Sean Jr (SJ) and Collins, living a simple, successful life.  They come upon Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron with the perfect amount of charm and subduedness), a large black boy, who has no home, no place to go, no way to better himself.  They take him in for the night, and "for the night" turns into "for a few nights" and "for a few nights" becomes "for a while". 

The movie then follows along with how not only Michael's life is changed, but how the Touhys--specifically Leigh Ann's--life is also changed.   What's so dazzling about this story is that its all true.  The real life Touhys have seen it, and commented that its pretty accurate, at least for a Hollywood film.

Its full of laughs and heartwarming moments, but its never preachy or manipulative.  The movie's intent it never to make you feel like you have to cry, and it doesn't seem like its showing you the "Hallmark" moments just for the awwwww factor... its part of the story.  In movies with this "helping each other out" theme, there's always an uncomfortable moment when the kids hate the new person, only to have this togetherness scene that brings them together--"The Blind Side" never has that.  SJ and Collins are nothing but loving and supportive of Michael, and it even enhances Michael's rebuilding of his life.

There is conflict, of course, first when Michael faces his past, and then we he faces the question of "Why did the Touhy's do this for me?", but being the movie that it is, the conflicts don't end badly. 

Probably the most impressive part of this entire movie is the evolution of Sandra Bullock... this is unlike a role that she's ever done, and she takes it full-on and does a tremendous job channeling the real Leigh Anne's will, spitfire and spunk.  Her accent is slight, but not bothersome, and in my favorite scene, she faces off against the other well-to-do women over lunch.  Its remarkable because you know that she was one of those women before Michael Oher showed up in her life.  One of the ladies, in a pleasant tone, asks if Leigh Anne was worried that a large black boy was sleeping in the same house, downstairs from Collins, the Touhy's pretty daughter.  Leigh Anne simply says, "Shame on you."

In a side note, I read a column in Entertainment Weekly where Sandra Bullock said she met Leigh Ann Touhy in real life, in research for the role--and was completely intimidated.  Apparently, in real life, as in the movie, Leigh Ann Touhy does in fact carry a gun in her purse and her vehicle, and is one of those "when I'm for you, I'm for you a thousand percent, but if you hurt me or someone I care about, you'd better watch it, cause I'm taking you out." 

When a movie's credits are rolling, sometimes The Lovely Steph Leann says, "I really liked it!" and I'll say, "Yeah, it was pretty good."  Sometimes I'll say, "I thought that was great", and she'll shrug and say, "Yeah, I liked it okay."  When the credits rolled for "The Blind Side", we both said, "That was fantastic."  And it was.  Everyone that I know that has seen this film has loved it.  The critics haven't been as kind, calling it a little sappy, a little schlocky, one even lamenting the fact that there was no conflict between Michael and the Touhy children, a fact that I really liked because that's done in every other film like this.  I'm guessing there was some conflict in real life, but Michael's relationship with SJ and Collins was not the center of the movie, it was all about Leigh Anne and Michael.

Tim McGraw is actually really good as Sean Touhy, the loving and supportive husband who gives way to his wife when needed, without ever giving the appearance that he's a doormat. 

Of course, Michael Oher, in real life, is playing in the NFL, selected in the as the 23rd pick overall this past April by the Baltimore Ravens after a very successful career at Ole Miss.  And that brings up a hilarious part of the film, when he's being recruited by colleges.. several college football coaches played themselves but at former schools: Phillip Fulmer (was Tennessee head coach, now out of football), Lou Holtz (was South Carolina head coach, now does TV and routinely embarrasses himself by picking Notre Dame to win), Houston Nutt (was Arkansas head coach, now Ole Miss head coach), Ed Orgeron (was Ole Miss head coach, now assistant at Tennessee and might possibly be crazy), Nick Saban (was LSU head coach, now Alabama head coach, practicing the phrase "We Got 13"), Tommy Tuberville (was Auburn head coach, now out of football... remember him?). 

The story itself was the center of a bestselling book in 2006, entitled "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis, and as of this blog post, it was sold out on

The movie is excellent... its feel good, its warm, its funny, its everything a family movie should be, one that pokes at you to say "awwww" without demanding you tear up or feel sympathy and guilt.  After the movie was over, I leaned over to The Lovely Steph Leann, and in my most politically incorrect tone said, "We should go to Ensley and adopt a black child."  She frowned at me, then rolled her eyes and got up to leave.  She's good at that.

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