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The Blind Side (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 128 minutes.

OK for children.

Sandra Bullock finally reaches her potential in this heart-warming true story, of black teenager Michael Oher (newcomer Quinton Aaron) and the chance at life given him by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) by taking him off the street, integrating him into her white, upper class family, and setting the stage for him to become a first round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens.

Iíve seen two stomach-turning injuries watching NFL football. I was an LA Rams 50-yard-line season ticket holder. My seats were in the top row, row 71, so I used high powered binoculars. In one game against Green Bay the Rams threw a pass into the end zone that was incomplete. I kept my glasses on the play after it was over and one of the Packersí defensive backs was on his back with his leg in the air. The leg was so badly broken, it was at right angles. Not many people saw how badly he was injured.

A few years later I was watching Washington play the Giants on television. Giantsí linebacker Lawrence Taylor fell on Washington quarterback Joe Theismann in such a way that it broke Joeís leg so badly that Theismann went into convulsions. It was so upsetting that I didnít watch the replay more than once.

This movie opens with video of the Taylor-Theismann incident. It shows it multiple times. I never wanted to see it again. Even Theismann admits he wonít watch it. It was very difficult to watch. So this movie does not start out well for me. Thereís no reason to impose this on an audience once, much less multiple times.

That said, this is a terrific movie. Itís a well told story by director-writer John Lee Hancock, based on the book by Michael Lewis. Iíve seen the real Leigh Ann and, unlike most movies about living people, she is at least as beautiful as movie star Bullock. But Bullock, wearing a blonde wig, perfectly captures Leigh Annís feisty personality.

Aaron is surprisingly unathletic for the role of an extremely talented football player, clearly too slow. Other than that, Aaron gives a believable performance as a disadvantaged street kid, considering heís a neophyte.

Another weakness of the film is that every play that starts with line play, starts with helmet to helmet contact. Helmut to helmet contact is banned in all levels of football. Itís subject to a 15 yard penalty.

But other than that, and despite Aaronís lack of athleticism, there are some extremely good performances, especially by Bullock, who finally comes into her own as an actress, and Jae Head, who plays Leigh Anneís son, S.J. Head reminds me of the irrepressible Ricky Nelson before he became a rock star and adopted an Elvis-type sneer.

Another positive aspect of the movie is the shot it takes at the hypocritical NCAA. At the end of the film it shows a despicable NCAA inspector trying to undo all the good Leigh Anne and her family did for Michael.

No movie is perfect, so the fact that there are some things about this of which I am critical doesnít mean that it isnít one of the best and most rewarding films Iíve seen this year, which it is.