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Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Blind Side

OK...I'm probably the last person in America to have seen this movie, but wow.

It's rare these days for a film to be so powerful that I spend the entire next day replaying it in my mind. But that's what happened. And I know I'm gonna sit through it again some time.

How could I help but be drawn in when the narrative opens on the play that marked Lawrence Taylor's rise to prominence (and Joe Theisman's fall from it)? The horrific mutilation of Theisman's leg (ending the career of a Superbowl champion star quarterback) brought to the NFL's attention the importance of offensive linemen. The voice of Sandra Bullock lists some of the physical attributes of the ideal football player to fill that position.

Then we meet the character who personifies the perfect offensive lineman: Michael "Big Mike" Oher. He's not just perfect because of his size, strength and agility, but also because he scored "in the 98th percentile in protective instincts." Most people assume Michael is stupid because he's big, quiet, and nobody's bothered to teach him anything. Unfortunately, too many Americans--especially black Americans--from the inner city have the same strikes against them that Michael does: MIA father or unknown father, substance-abusing mother who has rented her body out to more men than she can remember, gobs of siblings and cousins in the same predicament, surrounded by predatory scumbags, bigotry and lack of hope. Without Michael's athletic potential and/or the fortunate chain of events which puts him in contact with a family willing to practice Christian charity, millions of kids are ground through the self-perpetuating cruel cycle that ensures they will pay forward the tragedy to the next generation.

This is, by far, the best Sandra Bullock has been in any film I've seen. Ray Mckinnon also delivered a fine performance as Coach Burt Cotton.

When Leigh Ann Tuohy (Bullock) instructs Michael to apply those aforementioned protective instincts to the teammates in his backfield, this "Ferdinand the Bull" becomes one heck of a football player. But when his high school coach shows him the kind of fraternal loyalty Michael has craved all his life, he transforms into a gridiron hero. As we get to know Michael, however, we realize he is a hero with or without football.

There is so much I could say about this film, I could turn this blog into a novella. If I'm not the last person in America to have seen this movie, then my message to the rest of you is: You don't have to like football. Please rent it, borrow it or watch it on cable.

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