Sunday, March 14, 2010

Don't Mess With Her Son

Three stars

Sure, ‘The Blind Side’ is a bit corny, but the story is ultimately touching for the simple fact it’s a true story. Movies can show us how the world should be, and it’s even better when the story of how the world should be is actually the way the world sometimes is. Based on the book by Michael Lewis, a journalist known for his touching stories dealing with sports, writer/director John Lee Hancock doesn’t do too bad a job of handling the material. Sure, it’s Hollywood and we’ve heard the story a thousand times, but this story is tailor made for a Hollywood movie. It has the right mix of liberal helping out the poor mixed with the conservative image of how good of a heart America can really have. A poor African American kid from the wrong side of the tracks, Michael, gets into a religious school full of upper class white kids.
Michael is played by Quinton Aaron, who does a good job of giving a silent performance. He doesn’t say much. The pain is all in his facial expression. When walking home from school one day in the rain, he is seen by a woman named Leigh Anne Tuohy, who right away asks him where he is going. The gym, he says. The gym is closed, she says. It’s warm, he says back. She right away takes him into their home, and gives him a nice place to sleep. An unrecognizable Tim McGraw, who also turns in a nice performance, plays her husband. The two kids are cute, and the little boy is overly cute like the kid from Jerry Maguire. Though, it’s nice how quickly he cares about his new brother. The movie belongs mostly to Sandra Bullock, in a career changing performance. It’s different than the usual romantic comedies she is known for. She becomes the heroic women who can melt even the most diehard liberal’s heart when she tells a man who threatens her son that she’s a member of the NRA.
They officially adopt Michael and it’s touching to watch them make him a part of their family. The best part is that the Hollywood sappiness this movie provides is excused because it is a true story. Michael thrives, and they get him a tutor (the wonderful Kathy Bates, good in everything) and his grades start to improve. The film wisely keeps to the story between Michael and Leigh Anne Tuohy, and watching her unwavering fight to make a kid who came from nowhere succeed. The football really is a second note in this film. Some might want more sports scenes, but the story is really about making a kid succeed by any means necessary. They want him to succeed, and the whole family gets involved. They truly welcome him into their lives. A wonderful scene is when they are having Thanksgiving dinner and they all gather around the TV set, while Michael goes into the dining room and sits alone. Leigh notices this and quickly moves her entire family into the dining room, so Michael doesn’t have to eat alone.
Some will probably accuse this film of racism. Though, they shouldn’t. The scenes contrasting his life among the inner cities, and his life among a white suburban family are contrasting. Yet, it’s also the reality. In the film, the NCAA decides to investigate if in fact, they somehow drove Michael to attend Old Miss. They question if a lot of white families would start to pick up young black kids and drive them in the direction of a certain school and sport.Would there be something wrong with that? The question I thought to myself, is so what if they did?

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