A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Blind Side is a formulaic but uplifting family sports drama based on the true story of football player Michael Oher. It centers on messages about inclusion, the benefits of hard work, and the importance of family. That said, it sometimes feels as if it glosses over many of the challenges that Oher and his "rescuer" (socialite Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock) must have faced. And while it alludes to the prejudice that exists in certain situations, aside from a scene or two, it skirts the topic instead of truly tackling it, and some scenes depict characters who are blatantly racist. Still, Oher's life story in inarguably encouraging. While language and sexual content are quite mild, you can expect a couple of brief violent scenes, references to drug use, and social drinking.
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What's the story?
Before he became an All-American college football star and an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) was a brawny-but-tender teen attending a Christian school in Memphis with no roof over his head or family to support him. In THE BLIND SIDE, he's soon befriended by S.J. and Collins Tuohy (Jae Head and Lily Collins), children of wealthy fast-food franchise owner Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw) and his decorator wife Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock). Leigh Anne makes it her mission to remake Michael's life, inviting him into the Tuohys' home and, later, into the family itself. A real future for Michael appears on the horizon in the form of football, a sport for which his build and protective instincts seem perfectly suited. But first he needs to get his grades up -- and his head in the game.
Is it any good?
Based on a book by journalist Michael Lewis chronicling the real Oher's experiences, this film manages to inspire despite its broad-strokes approach to characterization. Bullock's winning effort paves the way; her Leigh Anne disarms both Oher and audiences despite a sassiness that edges on caricature -- there's real vulnerability behind Leigh Anne's type-A façade. Aaron's take on Oher is a little bit more textbook, but when he smiles, you forget for a moment that he's playing a role and really imagine him as the young Oher, abandoned but not lost.
Director John Lee Hancock could have explored the challenges that Leigh Anne and Michael faced as they tried to meld their divergent backgrounds with more complexity. Did Oher have any doubts? Was everyone at the school really that embracing? Instead, Hancock goes for the superficial. But The Blind Side has plenty of heart, something Hancock appears to have a knack for (he also helmed The Rookie, an even more heartwarming drama based on a real-life athlete). Still, he's in danger of too much sentimentality here -- that and condescension. The result is a straightforward and entertaining film, if you can ignore, yes, the blind spots.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what motivates Leigh Ann to welcome Michael into her home in The Blind Side. Was it a purely selfless move? Why does she later say that he changed her life (and not the other way around)?
Why does Michael trust the Tuohys? What appeals to him about them? Does the movie adequately address the skepticism and prejudice that Michael and the Tuohys faced when they became a family?
How accurate do you think the movie is? Why might filmmakers have changed certain parts of the story?
- In theaters: November 20, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 23, 2010
- Cast: Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw
- Director: John Lee Hancock
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 128 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references
- Last updated: August 19, 2020
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