The Blind Side

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Madame
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The Blind Side

Post by Madame » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:51 pm

I couldn't have said it better. This is one of the most delightful films I've seen in a long time.

I tried to find the opening narration by Sandra Bullock which sets the theme for the entire movie. Perhaps Corlyss can add that to this thread.

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Director John Lee Hancock is familiar with inspirational sports stories having helmed 2002's The Rookie, a baseball drama starring Dennis Quaid as a coach who gets a shot at the big leagues late in life. Like The Rookie, The Blind Side is a sweet story about not giving up and triumphing over adversity. But, and here's where The Blind Side stands apart from other such films, it's not saccharinely sweet. You won't get a toothache from sitting through this PG-13 drama based on true events. The Blind Side has lot of bite to it, thanks to Hancock's adaptation of Michael Lewis' book and Bullock's performance as Tuohy.

The Story
The Blind Side is based on the heartbreaking true story of now professional football player Michael Oher's sad upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee. As a teen, Michael (played brilliantly by Quinton Aaron) had no home to call his own, camping out on friends' couches or on the streets and struggling to get by day to day. When a friend's father gets him a spot at an exclusive school, Michael's a fish out of water. Even if he wasn't an imposing physical giant, Michael would stand out from his new classmates. His is the only African American face among a sea of upper class white Memphis teens, most of whom have no idea how to interact with him and opt to ignore this new, obviously out of his element, student.

One student who goes out of his way to say hello is young SJ Tuohy (Jae Head). SJ is an outgoing kid, unafraid of new experiences or of speaking his mind. That last trait is one he inherited from his interior designer mom, Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock). When Leigh Anne sees Michael walking alone at night in the rain, she demands to know where he's going and tells him not to dare lie to her. Michael admits he's off to the gym because it's warm and dry, and Leigh Anne insists they take him home with them. Leigh Anne always gets her way so her husband, Taco Bell franchise owner Sean (Tim McGraw), doesn't offer any resistance.

Michael's overwhelmed by the Tuohys lifestyle, but Leigh Anne and her family almost immediately treat him like family. They hire a tutor to get his grades up and push him toward playing football. Michael's size makes him an ideal candidate for the school's team, although Michael hasn't played the sport on an organized level before. Leigh Anne believes he's a natural for the position of left offensive tackle, the second most important position on the team. The left tackle protects the quarterback's blind side and with SJ's help, Michael slowly learns how to put his size and strength to good use.

But Michael's a gentle giant and it takes a motivational speech from Leigh Anne equating protecting the quarterback to protecting her and her children to get Michael to step up his game. And once he does, there's no stopping him. College recruiters pour into the school, Michael can pretty much write his own ticket, and the rest is NFL history.

The Cast
The brunette Bullock might have been the target for blonde jokes had she not delivered such an outstanding performance in The Blind Side. But we can forget the jokes as Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy as one tough cookie, a smart, sensitive, take no prisoners kind of woman who doesn't tolerate fools. Tim McGraw doesn't portray Sean as a shrinking violet, he's merely the less outspoken, less forceful partner in the marriage. The chemistry between McGraw and Bullock is impressive. The two come across as an old married couple who can read each other's minds, thanks to terrific performances and a smart script.

Jae Head, Lily Collins (as the daughter), and Quinton Aaron keep up with Bullock and McGraw, which is quite a task for the young actors who have less than a dozen film credits between them. Aaron's able to show an amazing amount of depth as an uneducated but not dumb young man who rises above his early upbringing to become a successful professional football player. And Oscar-winner Kathy Bates (Misery) is perfectly cast, stealing scenes as the tutor hired to bring Michael's grades up.

The entire cast is great, but it's really Bullock's performance that lifts The Blind Side above the typical sports drama. Bullock is ferocious as Leigh Anne, a real powerhouse of a woman who doesn't take no for an answer. It's a side of Bullock we haven't seen before on film, and The Blind Side really benefits from her ability to go there and not back down playing this woman who finds herself while helping out a homeless teen.

The Blind Side's a feel-good film that should attract both sexes due to the subject matter. There's gridiron action as well as fully developed characters in this compelling tale of family and football. To paraphrase a quote from an ex-NFL coach, The Blind Side is what we thought it would be, but it's also a whole lot more. Inspiring, heart-wrenching, warm, and funny, The Blind Side is a real winner.

http://movies.about.com/od/newmoviesand ... review.htm

Corlyss_D
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Re: The Blind Side

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:33 pm

I saw the movie Monday week. Here's what I wrote to my baseball buddy in Phoenix, a football-phobe until a couple of weeks ago. She feels duty bound to follow the Cards, and told her son if she were still in Ogden, we would have made arrangements to go to see The Blind Side together after a nice lunch at our favorite Greek restaurant.

It's a terrific movie. It has to be true because Hollywood would never let this story out the door written this way. The script writer had a great ear for family dynamic with half-way decent kids. Sandra Bullock is awesome as Leigh Anne Touhy, a force of nature. The way she takes Michael Oher in tow, and won't give up in the face of staggering odds is a wonderful portrait of determeination. That Michael Lewis (Moneyball) just keeps on delivering the hits. I'd love to be the kind of writer he is and do what he does in a future life. The movie starts off with Bullock narrating an analysis of the game in 1985 that ended Joe Theisemann's career, the one where Lawrence Taylor, perhaps the greatest linebacker ever to play the game, broke Theisemann's leg - a comminuted compound fracture. I was listening to that game on the radio while I was studying my law books. I had no idea that that incident was so instrumental in changing the game of football. My jaw dropped when I saw the frames flash up on the screen because I had never seen the views of the hit Taylor put on Theismann, along with about 3 other guys. I do remember hearing Taylor was almost physically ill when he saw Theismann's leg. Of course they don't show that in the movie, but I do recall it was talked about for a long time after the game. The movie isn't about football so much as about two very determined and courageous people, Leigh Anne Touhy and Michael Oher, who signed last spring with the Baltimore Ravens.

I had to look up comminuted: it means crushed, pulverized.

The script writer did a fantastic job with the family dialog and spreading the wealth of lines. I heard Sunday night, while watching the Ravens beat the Steelers, that Oher was not happy with the way he was portrayed as a young player - he had been playing football for a while before he enrolled in the school and wasn't the hopeless tyro that the movie portrayed. Oher is quick to say he is proud of where he came from because it made him tough and resourceful. But the way Touhy coached him to think of the QB and the RB as her and SJ respectively in order to invoke his "93 percentile protective instincts" was such a brilliant scene and so funny I am glad they strayed a tad from fact for it.

One thing I kept thinking watching the movie is the fact that in all the IQ tests the NFL routinely gives to its players, the run-away winners for the highest IQ are the offensive line players. You wouldn't know it to look at these fleshy behemoths, but they are whip smart. Flash to Oher, who flunked his entrance exams to the private Christian school because he was functionally illiterate. But he had exceptionally acute aural memory. So one teacher began giving him his tests orally and writing down his answers. After a certain point in his progress, they brought in a tutor, Miss Sue, practically a walk-on by Kathy Bates, but when she tries subtly (!) to persuade Oher not to go to the University of Tennessee (for some reason hated by the whole family except Oher), she really steals the scene.

One of the most moving scenes in the show is when Sean and Miss Sue try to help Oher pick a topic for his senior English essay. A couple are suggested that do not spark a reaction from Oher, then Sean starts retelling him about the Charge of the Light Brigade, quoting long passages and putting a prose gloss on it.

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd.

When Oher inquires why the soldiers followed orders they knew to be futile, Sean quotes the famous line "Theirs not to make reply/Theirs not to reason why/Theirs but to do and die." Oher looks up and says thoughtfully, "They're all gonna die, aren't they?" Sean nods wordlessly, and Oher begins an internal vocalizing of his essay: "Courage is a funny thing. We all think we have it and hope we have it when we need it . . .," scribbling in his notebook as he speaks. Like I say, it was very moving.

Miss Sue accompanied him to Ole Miss when he graduated high school. While in college, he made the Dean's list. One might be inclined to think that someone else did all the academic work for Oher, but the NCAA apparently had Oher under scrutiny because there was a perception that the Touhys' efforts on his behalf might set a sleazy precedent: wealthy white boosters of a particular school rescuing talented minorities, "adopting" them for the purpose of grooming them to go to that university. (In fact, the investigation interview between an NCAA investigator is how the movie opens and the scene recapitulates near the end of the movie, precipitating something of a crisis in Oher such that it sends him back to the life and neighborhood he lived in before the Touhy's picked him up in the freezing rain on that lonely dark road. After an evening among some real low-lifes, he flees and calls Leigh Anne to come pick him up.) So I can't imagine that someone else did the academic work for Oher.
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Re: The Blind Side

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:46 pm

It's third weekend out it was the highest grossing movie of the week. Good job!
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DavidRoss
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Re: The Blind Side

Post by DavidRoss » Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:38 am

We finally saw this via DVD rental last night. It delivered as expected, except for the brilliant opening voiceover Corlyss and Colleen mentioned above, which is condensed from the first chapter of the Michael Lewis book, reproduced here: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/BlindSide/ex ... id=9418563

After seeing the movie, I found myself wondering about the "true life story" of Michael Oher and was curious about Tony Henderson, the man who had taken Michael into his home and who set him on the path of salvation by helping to get him admitted to the Briarcrest Christian School. Here's a bit more about him and the role he played in turning Oher's life around before the Tuohys got involved: http://www.wreg.com/news/wreg-tonyhende ... 0566.story

Oher attended Briarcrest for 20 months while living in a variety of foster homes and crashing on friends' sofas before the Tuohy's took him in, during which time he was named to the Tennessee All-State high school football team. Sean Tuohy, a former standout NCAA basketball player, knew him from the school's basketball team, which he helped coach. Sean had arranged to pay for an open charge account at the school cafeteria for Michael to help insure that he got fed. Michael had been crashing on a teammate's sofa when Sean & Leigh Anne spotted him walking along a Memphis street wearing only shorts and T-shirt on a snowy winter night.

More information about the true story here: http://www.rd.com/advice-and-know-how/b ... 30250.html

And George Will's NYTimes review of Michael Lewis's book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, on which the movie is based, is here: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.h ... gewanted=1
"Most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives." ~Leo Tolstoy

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character." ~Dale Turner

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." ~Albert Einstein
"Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end, there it is." ~Winston Churchill

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Lance
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Re: The Blind Side

Post by Lance » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:02 am

Saw this and LOVED it - every moment.
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Wallingford
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Re: The Blind Side

Post by Wallingford » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:36 pm

Our family saw the DVD the other weekend. My rating? ***1/2 (out of 4)

Fair quantity of the usual mainstream hokum here; quite entertaining nonetheless.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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