What happens when a wealthy white family in Tennessee takes in a homeless, African-American teen? For the Tuohy family and their adopted son, life would never be the same.
In The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy, an upper-class, football-loving wife and mother of two with an unflappable will and an appealing sassy side. When she meets Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a hulking boy with a hard life and heart of gold, she doesn’t think twice before taking him in as one of her own. As the Tuohys slowly bring Michael into the family fold, they help Michael over some of his academic and social hurdles with a determination that would eventually lead him to a pro career in the NFL. (Yes, their new family member happens to be a genius on the field.)
Based on a true story, the Hollywood version of events is glossy and funny and touching, shamelessly pulling heartstrings and amplifying every painful and heart-warming detail to the max. When Leigh Anne goes looking for Michael’s birth mother, there’s no downplaying the class and race contrasts when she marches into a poor, African-American neighborhood in Memphis, sporting her sparkly wedding ring and a tight dress that screams MILF. It’s a little unbelievable that her run-in with a few local men doesn’t end in disaster, but it doesn’t matter: The moment of meeting Mrs. Oher seems real, brimming with the discomfort of unspoken inequality and white guilt, but letting Leigh Anne’s purity of mission relieve the tension.
At another point, Michael inevitably makes a run for it. He’s been through the ringer his whole life and is on the cusp of a college football career when the NCAA gets suspicious about the Tuohys’ intentions. Fearing for her son, Leigh Anne takes off again, frantically searching for him. It doesn’t take long, and their reunion is impressively restrained on the gushiness -- but it’s unabashed in its role as an emotional sucker-punch, calling on just about every tear duct in the human body. As far as fighting the saccharine goes, it’s officially game over: The Blind Side may exploit Oher’s story, but it’s a damn good one.
The film arrives on DVD this week (Tuesday, March 23), with the same heart, soul and shameless emotional tackles but woefully few extra segments, which appear to have been reserved for the Blu-ray edition. While the latter features fun extras like an exclusive interview with Michael Oher and a tête-à-tête between Bullock and the real Leigh Anne, DVD consumers get a handful of deleted segments that simply offer a little more backstory, but not much to cheer about.
Regardless, The Blind Side itself is enough entertainment to merit multiple viewings. Say what you will about Bullock’s Oscar win earlier this month, but now and then, inspiration deserves to win.