Tuesday, March 23, 2010

THE BLIND SIDE (2009) / ***

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: November 20, 2009
Genre: Sports Drama
Running Time: 126 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

It took me months to finally watch this movie, and you know what? I’m glad I did. “The Blind Side” is a solidly enjoyable and quite likable film. It’s also the mostly aptly titled film of 2009 – how many people expected this sports drama based on a true story starring Sandra Bullock would gross over $250 million? Couple that with the $163+ million of Bullock’s other major 2009 release, “The Proposal,” and it was a great year for her. Hell, even “All About Steve” grossed over $33 million, for a grand total of over $446 million. These facts, more so than her actual performance in “Blind Side” are likely the biggest contributors to her Oscar triumph a few weeks ago.

Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy Memphis housewife who participates in a number of different causes, and is generally quite visible in her community. Another person who is quite visible in the community is newcomer Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). He’s visible primarily due to his enormous stature. His size gets him noticed by the football coach, and despite no real records of his grades existing, he gets accepted into the local private Christian school, because taking the boy in is “the Christian thing to do.”

While driving through the rain one night, Leigh Anne and her family, including husband Sean (Tim McGraw), find Michael walking by himself. Leigh Anne offers him a place to stay for the night, which of course turns into a permanent thing in short order.

The film follows a predictable trajectory throughout, with montages aplenty to document Michael’s assimilation into the Tuohy family, and the community as a whole. A few little problems pop up, but director John Lee Hancock (“The Rookie,” “The Alamo”) keeps the drama and conflict to a minimum and focuses on sugar and spice and everything nice.

Bullock’s performance obviously anchors the movie, and it’s a solid performance that’s well suited to the material. I don’t think it was the best of the year, or even one of the five best, but trying to imagine “The Blind Side” with someone else in the lead makes it clear how valuable Bullock was to its shocking success.

Theater: RDM Westroads 14, Omaha, NE
Time: 125 pm
Date: February 10, 2010

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