The Blind Side

The problem with movies that are based on a true story is you’re never really sure how much of it is true and how much is story.

It’s a thought that will cross your mind at least a handful of times during The Blind Side.

Sandra Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy Memphis matron who finds her children’s newest classmate, “Big Mike” Oher (Quinton Aaron), walking down the street one winter’s night dressed only in a ratty polo shirt and shorts. He’s big, he’s black, and he’s from the wrong side of the tracks, and his puppy dog eyes and Leigh Anne’s Christian ways are a match made in heaven.

She (and her husband and two kids) takes him in and gives him a couch to sleep on, ending Oher’s life in the hood and beginning his eventual road to the NFL.

It also begins the “Really? It’s that easy?” portion of the movie. With the exception of a few sideways glances and a couple throwaway comments from Leigh Anne’s lunch buddies, her family’s ‘adoption’ of Michael (don’t call him “Big Mike”) goes off without a hitch. There’s no trouble with social services, no racist comments in the school halls, no boycotting of Leigh Anne’s interior design business. Nothing.

If you didn’t know better, you might think you were watching a Disney movie, but even Disney movies occasionally present a bad guy, a conflict, or some kind of challenge that the lead character’s forced to overcome.

The only challenge for Oher (and Leigh Anne) in The Blind Side is making sure he gets his grades up enough so he can get a football scholarship.

But, since it’s based on a true story, maybe that’s how it really happened.

Fortunately Bullock’s take on Leigh Anne is more than enough to make up for this suspension of disbelief. In the best performance of her 15+ year career, she not only sheds her regular ol’ girl-next-door image, she tears it off, stomps on it, and then runs over it with Leigh Anne’s shiny new BMW.

She’s a ballsy, take-no-gruff mama who easily fixes any situation that’s thrown her way. (In one of the movies best scenes, she struts onto the high school practice field –high heels and all– and gives Michael and his coach the pep talk they need to get back on track.)

The Blind Side is full of moments like this, plus a scene-stealing turn by Jae Head as the Tuohy’s young son, solid performances by Tim McGraw (daddy Tuohy) and Kathy Bates (Michael’s tutor), and hilarious cameos from a half-dozen of college football’s greatest coaches.

It’s a nice, happy, feel-good, warm movie that will leave a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

…so much so that you’ll probably wish this kind of thing happened in real life, not just in the movies.

Oh wait.

4/5 stars