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The Blind Side

Imagine a movie co-produced by the Disney Channel, Lifetime, and ESPN, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from The Blind Side. It is based on the story of Michael Oher, who spent most of his childhood in Memphis in foster homes or living on the streets. Circumstances bring him into a private Christian school where his size (6’4”, 300+ pounds) make him seem like a natural for football. But he is shy to the point of autism and unable to make sufficient grades to qualify for sports. His life turned around when he was taken in by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, a well-to-do couple whose daughter attended the same school. With their help, Oher was able to overcome his demons and go on to college at the University of Mississippi.

You can certainly see why this story (actually only a part of the book by Michael Lewis whose title it retains) seemed like a natural for the movies. And they certainly found an appropriate actor to play Oher—Quinton Aaron, who is an appropriate size and has a puppy dog eyes that make the camera melt. But there just had to be more real drama to his story than comes through in this film. You get the impression that writer-director John Lee Hancock didn’t want to risk losing the audience’s sympathy for him by showing anything negative about the character, and took it so far as to strip Michael of anything that made him a normal teenager, much less one from such an awful past. The real focus is on Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock as one of those unstoppable forces of nature that, if you’re lucky, you’ll never run into in real life. Lewis’s book reportedly studies the phenomenon of Southerners’ obsession with college football, but that’s accepted here as a given, with academics depicted as an inconvenient hurdle placed in the way of sports. The movie also struck me as borderline racist: the only black characters we see aside from the unthreatening Michael are drug dealers, crack whores and other street types who didn’t have the good fortune to be taken in by a rich white family. I have no problem with movies that demonstrate what a good thing it is to put Christian virtues in action, but I object when they make it look like it doesn’t take any effort.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for The Blind Side

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