Monday, December 14, 2009

The Blind Side: Movie Review

"Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die." Tim McGraw teaches more than Tennyson to Quinton Aaron in this heart-warming drama directed by John Lee Hancock and based on the inspriing true story of All-American offensive left tackle, Michael Oher. Taken from a drug-addicted mother at a young age, Michael "Big Mike" Oher (Aaron) is left to the mercy of the streets, toting a plastic bag with a single change of clothes (which he slips into the loads of customers at the local laundry). At first, Michael survives on the half-hearted hospitality of family friends who give him a couch to sleep on one night, and a foot out the door the next. When an unexpected intervention lands him a coveted spot at Wingate Christian School, Michael, with zero to no education and an IQ of 80, is disillusioned by the upperclass world of white-collar piers. Left to fall behind by a cohort of teachers, most of whom are indifferent to his situation, he catches the concerned eye of Leigh Ann Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), a suburban mother of two who opens her home and heart to the gentle giant. As Michael adjusts to his new lifestyle (which includes an opportunity to shine on the high school football team), Leigh Ann learns a thing or two about what it's like to live, and struggle, on the opposite side of the train tracks.

Director John Lee Hancock has had considerable success with bids on the dark-horse drama. In 2002, working alongside Dennis Quaid, Hancock struck home with the emotional crowd-pleaser, The Rookie, which documented the rise of Jim Morris from high school science teacher to all-star pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Two years later, he commanded the set of the historical action-drama, The Alamo, starring Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett as Jason Patric as Jim Bowie. The Blind Side was Hancock's first experience working with Sandra Bullock and country-music star, Tim McGraw. The pair have a unique chemistry as Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose scenes together will charm viewers with a rare insight into a loving relationship between members of the upper-class. Bullock, as the indominatable Leigh Anne Tuohy, will have audiences cheering for a scene in which she stands up to an insolent gangster intent on leading Michael into the shady underworld of Hurt Village, the Hell's Kitchen of Uptown, Memphis. Tim McGraw is almost unrecognizable as fast food executive, Sean Tuohy, but mesmerizes with a profound recitation of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

Newcomers Lily Collins and Jae Head cap off a stellar supporting cast as the Tuohy children, Collins and SJ, while Academy Award winner, Kathy Bates, brings a bit of comedy to the forefront as Michael's eccentric, but encouraging tutor, Miss Sue. Two brief, but powerful performances of note are those by Adriane Lennox as Denise Oher, Michael's reclusive, drug-addicted mother, and Kim Dickens as Mrs. Boswell, the first of Michael's teachers to recognize his potential in the classroom. Last, but most definitely not least, is Quinton Aaron, who is taciturn for the most part in the role of Michael Oher, but captures audiences with an ability for physical expression that has not been seen at this caliber since Hollywood's silent era.

Tim McGraw ("Southern Voice") and Five for Fighting ("Chances") add a typical southern feel to an eclectic soundtrack that includes pop-singer, Lucy Woodward ("Trouble With Me"), 50's jazz group, the Dave Brubeck Quartet ("Unsquare Dance"), and the blues-rock, Woodstock-group, Canned Heat ("Going Up the Country"). Viewers, however, will find the silence in such climactic scenes as Michael's confrontation with an investigator from the NCAA and a showdown with the thugs from Hurt Village as tributes to a dynamic and poignant film that is sure to be a favorite of athletes, sports-lovers, and even sports-haters, alike.

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The Blind Side

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