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Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Blind Side

This is a movie I have wanted to see for a long time, and having heard so many positive things about it, expectations were high. The movie is based on the true story of Michael Oher (the real one pictured above) who was without a family, a home or any real hope when adopted in Memphis by the Tuohy family. They gave him a home -- and a family, helped him through school, and stuck by him as he developed a career as a formidable left tackle. Oher went on to play for Ole Miss and then was drafted in 2009 by the Baltimore Ravens, for whom he can regularly be seen playing, although at Right Tackle.

The movie itself opens with an explanation of the significance of the Left Tackle (which, remember, is Oher's position). It traces the growth in importance back to the infamous Joe Theismann injury in 1985, when the Redskins QB received a career-ending hit from Giants Outside Linebacker Lawrence Taylor. This led to the Left tackle being given a more prominent role in protecting the blind side of right-handed Quarterbacks.

The injury itself is shown on numerous occasions in slow-mo, and since it is generally considered to be the most gruesome injury in Primetime NFL TV history, it's best to avert the eyes for the first few minutes. I'm not sure that this is necessarily gratuitous to show because it does very effectively explain the importance of a left tackle, but to someone squeamish like me - not good!!
The rest of the movie shows the Tuohy family getting to know, and love Michael. Sandra Bullock is fantastic as mother Leigh Anne, who is a whirlwind of energy with a faith that motivates her to strive to do the right thing.

Bullock has since commented:
"I’ve had the blessing of having my -- not a restored faith, but I now have faith in those who say they represent a faith, whereas before I was like, “Do not give me a lecture on how to live my life when I know I’m a pretty decent human being. I might not go to church every day but I know I do the right thing or try to. You’re going to church and you’re still sleeping around on your wife and spending everyone’s money. How are you better than I am?” So I’ve finally met people that walk the walk and it’s made me happy, really happy."

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, lots of emotion, but mainly a sense of well-being and restored faith in the good in people as a result of seeing the movie.  There are great performances from Tim McGraw as Leigh Anne's husband, the 2 siblings in the family, and of course the previously-unknown Quinton Aaron as Michael. There are even some cameos from then-college Head Coaches such as Lou Holtz (now a TV pundit) and the newly triumphant Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, who was then with LSU.

Reaction from Michael Oher himself has been virtually non-existent, but he was thought to be displeased at the film's portrayal of him arriving at high school as a passive, unskilled big guy who was only barely acquainted with football. In truth, Oher was an aggressive, fairly experienced football player when he enrolled, and he then developed into a premier left tackle who was (as depicted) heavily recruited by the top schools in the Southeastern Conference. I suspect the way the movie depicts Michael is to provide some light relief, as that whole section -- and it's resolution -- is  really funny.

This is definitely a movie to see, not least because it provides some hope in a world where hope in the movies is so rarely seen. To see the good in people gives us all hope of our potential to do the same, and to follow God's prompting in Isaiah 58 verse 7  to "..share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help."

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