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Blind Side, The (Blu-ray Review)

19 Mar, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 3/23/10
Box Office $252.7 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references.
Stars Sandra Bullock, Quintin Aaron, Tim McGraw, Jae Head, Kathy Bates, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon, Kim Dickens.

Between The Blind Side and The Rookie, director John Lee Hancock has perfected the art of the feel-good sports movie. Both films share a lot in common, with stories of unconventional athletes coming from modest backgrounds to create a stir in professional sports, and a plucky kid along for the ride.

The Blind Side has the added benefit of a relentless (and Oscar-winning) performance by Sandra Bullock, who transforms herself to a degree not on display in her earlier work.

The movie takes its cues from Michael Lewis’ 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, an examination of the history of American football, the emergence of the left tackle as vital offensive position, and how valuable that made a big kid from the Memphis inner city named Michael Oher.

Hancock’s treatment focuses on how Oher, homeless and functionally illiterate, came to the attention of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy (Bullock and Tim McGraw), who gave him a place to sleep and eventually adopted him. With the help of a series of generous individuals along the way, Oher became the first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009, and because of the movie was the subject of much discussion during the recently concluded season.

The film has garnered some criticism from a vocal minority who claim it to be a validation of white guilt, or that it somehow suggests the only way a kid can survive the inner city is with the help of the rich. But the Oher story really happened, and to ignore that is to ignore a triumph of human interest.

This is an undeniably compelling story that tugs at the heartstrings, and aside from a few scenes of gang violence is perfect for family audiences. Its widespread appeal is the main reason for the film’s huge success in becoming the most successful movie with a solo female headliner, and the highest-grossing sports film ever (even though the sports angle is limited to the second half of the movie).

The disc offers some extras that are equally compelling, apart from a few ho-hum deleted scenes.

There’s an interview with the real Michael Oher, which is pretty much a must-have for a movie like this. There’s also a featurette about the actor who played him, Quintin Aaron, who shared a similar story to Oher (and to Gabourey Sidibe of Precious, for that matter) of having been plucked from obscurity.

A featurette called “Acting Coaches” expands upon one of the more fascinating angles of the movie, which is its glimpse into the world of big-time college recruiting. Several current and former NCAA Division I football coaches, such as Nick Saban and Lou Holtz, play themselves in the film, and this featurette covers what the experience was like for them (most of them just wanted to meet Sandra Bullock).

There are also two one-on-one interviews that are really interesting. First is Bullock and the real Leigh Ann Tuohy discussing how they went about bringing this story to the big screen. But more relevant to film buffs is a conversation between Hancock and Lewis, which is at its heart about the philosophical differences between film and literature as a medium of storytelling.

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