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Friday
Nov202009

The Blind Side

If you ask me, most theatrical trailers do a decent job of nailing the quality of their respective movies because no matter how good your editor is, he or she cannot make an amazing trailer out of bad material. If the movie is garbage, the trailer generally is too, but on rare occasions, you'll see a trailer so awful that you'll laugh at every line of dialogue, notice every cliché and write the movie off before seeing it, but it will actually turn out to be pretty good. The Blind Side is one of those movies. I had zero expectations going into this typical black-teenager-overcomes-difficulties-to-make-something-of-himself picture, but I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. It may be typical, but its message is heartfelt and its story is as uplifting and inspiring as any you'll see this year.

The Blind Side is based on the true story of a Christian family who took in a young African American teenager that went from being a nobody to playing on the Baltimore Ravens. Quinton Aaron plays Michael Oher, the young lad drafted this year into the NFL. Michael is a timid character, a kid who has never truly been loved and has never fit in with any particular crowd. He was taken away from his drug addicted mother when he was young and only God knows where his father is. His brother has become a part of the wrong crowd and on top of all this, he lacks a good education. He has an IQ of only 80 and a GPA of 0.6. Late one night, Leigh Anne Touhy, played by Sandra Bullock, spots Michael walking along the side of the road and offers him a place to stay. He apprehensively accepts, but as time goes on, he and the Touhy family begin to become one.

Leigh Anne and her husband, Sean, played by Tim McGraw (who is quite good, surprisingly enough), are conservative Christians. They are people who hold the word of God above everything else. Now, some people hear the term "Christian" and roll their eyes, including myself at times, because most so called Christians are anything but. They don't help others. They care only about themselves. They're greedy, they're lustful, they're hateful, but the Touhy family are true Christians, people who are Christ-like and live to help others. The Touhys are people that all "Christians" should strive to be like.

As time goes on, Michael opens up. He used to be very quiet. Now he is outgoing. He used to always carry a frown. Now he smiles and laughs and enjoys life. He grows as a person throughout the movie because it is the first time in his life that he has every truly felt accepted. This is a beautiful story of triumph, love and overcoming adversity. It is also a story of emotional significance and a great testament to humanity, even in these times when it seems like none exists anymore. This is a good movie that made me shed a few tears in happiness after seeing the true kindness the Touhy family bestowed on Michael.

However, it's a bit uneven. Its heart is in the right place, but its execution is lacking at times. One scene midway through the movie has Michael and the little Touhy child named S.J., played by Jae Head, driving down the road, bonding over some music playing on the radio. Unfortunately, Michael isn't paying much attention and gets into a wreck. Knowing that the airbag in the front seat could kill the little guy, he sacrifices his arm to stop it from inflating too quickly into S.J. This scene is inconsequential to the narrative and serves no purpose other than as a way for Michael to better his football skills. Just as he protected S.J., he is told similarly to protect the quarterback. These two scenes directly follow one another, each sporting different tones with no consequences ever emerging from the car wreck.

It also begins to sag near the end due to what seems like an over dramatization of actual events. Though I have no doubt most of this really happened, I find it hard to believe emotions were flying this high in actuality. A late scene with an NCAA representative investigating the Touhy's intentions with Michael plays like a bad scene from a crime drama. She interrogates him like they just found him standing over a dead, bloody body with a knife. From here on out, the movie takes a turn for the worse and only redeems itself at the last possible second where pictures of Michael and the actual Touhy family are shown, marking one final emotional payoff that works.

Other than an overly dramatic, schmaltzy back portion, The Blind Side handles its content well, even going so far as to include some honest to God uproarious jokes that had me laughing harder than many comedies this year. When you're able to wrap more than a handful of hilarious jokes around such an inspiring story, you've succeeded on more levels than you can imagine. It's a hard thing to do, but this film does it.

Like I said, this movie had one of the most awful trailers I've seen all year. Every time I saw it, I cringed at the thought of sitting through it, mainly due to the dialogue. But that trailer lacked context. Every stupid line in the trailer that I snickered at works in the movie because they fit into what is going on. They are said with a purpose and aren't just lines of dialogue randomly assembled in an attempt to convey the emotion in the overall movie.

It's nearly impossible to not compare this to Precious, the other similar movie that was released recently. Although this isn't as good as Precious, it's also not as difficult to watch. That movie with dealt with some incredibly dark material, to the point where you started to feel physically nauseous and degraded from having to witness the lifestyle that poor girl was forced to live through. The Blind Side is happier and more encouraging than Precious. That isn't the mark of a better film, only of a more marketable one (which is perhaps why Precious is in limited release while The Blind Side is wide). Regardless of its shortcomings, this is a movie that will make you smile and appreciate the good people out there that give an otherwise doomed person another chance at life. Don't let the trailers fool you. The Blind Side is a keeper.

The Blind Side receives 3.5/5

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