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The Blind Side (2009)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/23/2010

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/21/2010

Get it on Blu-ray, DVD, and Download on March 23rd!

If any genre is in need of a makeover, it's the sports movie. While we've been offered a variety of sports over the years -- boxing, baseball, football, soccer, figure skating, etc. -- the results are often the same. We typically see the underdog players learn to come together as a team and overcome the odds. Even if they don't win that final game, they've grown as people. While it still contains some of these properties, The Blind Side is a movie about an athlete which focuses less on the game and more on the people involved.

The Blind Side is set in Memphis during the early part of the 2000s. Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is a very large young man who lives in a public housing community called "Hurt Village". A family friend pulls some strings to get Michael into a private school. But, he doesn't fit in there -- he's one of the few African-American students, he wears the same clothes everyday, and he has trouble keeping up in class. His science teacher, Mrs. Boswell (Kim Dickens), takes an interest in Michael and tries to find alternate ways to teach him. While leaving a sporting event at the school, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy (Tim McCraw) notice Michael. When he reveals that he has no place to go, Leigh Anne invites Michael to spend the night with The Tuohys. Instead of being intimidated by this stranger, Leigh Anne takes in interest in Michael. As she learns more about the boy and his past, Michael becomes one of the family, growing especially close to young S.J. (Jae Head). When Michael's grads improve, he becomes eligible for football, and The Tuohys realize just how talented this quiet young man is.

Unless you've been under a rock (and why would you be there?), you're familiar with The Blind Side. The movie has grossed over $250 million at the U.S. box office and Sandra Bullock recently won an Oscar for her role. (The movie was also nominated for Best Picture.) And if you asked those millions of people who have seen the film what it was about, most would probably answer Michael Oher. But, is that correct?

If you really examine the movie, you'll see that it actually focuses more on The Tuohys, specifically Leigh Anne. Is that a bad thing? Well, yes and no. Obviously, Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family are just as much as part of the story as Michael is. It's important that we get to know them so that we understand why they would do something so unusual. And Leigh Anne's straight-forward and no-nonsense attitude must be developed, as this is part of what made her capable of not only taking in Michael, but becoming a huge part of his life as well. However, this approach pushes Michael to the background for much of the movie. The Blind Side presents Oher as a gentle giant who rarely speaks. This not only seems unrealistic at times, it also makes him unknowable. Aaron does a lot with his eyes and body language, but I wish that Michael had been given more dialogue so that we could have learned more about him. Having the story structured in this way makes the film's message come off as "Here are The Tuohys, they took in this poor Black kid, and he's an athlete and that's all that you need to know about him."

There are some other problems with the narrative structure, mostly in the way of plotholes. The movie opens with a man named Big Tony (Omar Dorsey) attempting to get his son and Michael admitted into the private school. Although we are told that Michael lives with Big Tony, he's never mentioned again. Also, we have to assume that Tony's son was admitted, but Michael never hangs out with him, and, at times, we are lead to believe that Michael is the only African-American kid at the school. When we first meet Leigh Anne, we hear her identify herself as an interior designer, but for the rest of the movie, she comes off as a stay-at-home mom. This was only complicated by the fact that before I saw the film, I made the mistake of reading an article which pointed out all of the facts from the true story which were skewed for the film. For example, Michael played middle school football, but in the movie, he acts as if he's never seen a football before.

Script and plotting issues aside, there's no denying that this is a powerful story which deserved to be told. We could argue all day about how anyone as blessed as The Tuohys should go out of their way to help others, but that wouldn't change the fact that what this family did was very special. Offering to help out someone in need is one thing. Actually taking them in and becoming their legal guardian is something else entirely. Ignoring the factual issues, the movie doesn't present Michael as someone who is perfect, and there are times when Leigh Anne struggles with him -- this helps to give the story more of an impact. Director John Lee Hancock went down a somewhat similar path with The Rookie, so he has some experience with taking a true story and punching up the emotional moments. But, while watching the movie, I kept asking myself, "Does this deserve a Best Picture nod?". I wasn't sure of the answer until this line was uttered: "If he can qualify with the grades, Clemson wants him." Then, I realized that the movie did deserve Best Picture...Best Science Fiction Picture. Clemson? Grades? Please.

The Blind Side owns like 100 Taco Bells on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The image has a nice crispness which really works during the football practice scene. Just look at how those green uniforms stand out and how the scene has nice depth to it. The colors always look fine and the image is never too dark or bright. The picture reveals a nice amount of detail as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. For the most part, this is a pretty status quo track. The stereo and surround sound effects are satisfactory, but don't draw attention to themselves. The exception to this is during the football game, where the tackles wake up the subwoofer and the crowd noise and music fills the rear speakers.

The Blind Side Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. In "The Real Michael Oher: An Exclusive Interview" (10 minutes), the real-life person talks about his life and his reaction to the story. Other than giving the real name of the school, he doesn't contradict anything from the movie. While this isn't terribly revealing, it's nice to see the real person. "Acting Coaches: Behind The Blind Side" (5 minutes) looks at the fact that real-life college football coaches appeared in the film. "The Story of Big Quinton" (14 minutes) looks at the casting of Quinton Aaron to play Oher. The filmmakers talk about finding the actor, while Aaron himself goes back to the Bronx and talks about his life. "Sideline Conversations" is split into two parts. "Sandra Bullock & Leigh Anne Tuohy" (5 minutes) has the two ladies talking candidly. Bullock talks about the challenge of playing Tuohy, while Tuohy describes her reactions to Bullock researching her life. "Director John Lee Hancock and Author Michael Lewis" (28 minutes) discuss the challenge of adapting the book for a feature film, and the evolution of the film itself. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 7 minutes. There is some information here which fills in some of the blanks in the film. And, as usual, there's on less-than-a-minute scene which should have been left in the movie.

Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long