Monday, February 15, 2010
The Blind Side
Did you catch the movie “The Blind Side” in the theater? It should be out on DVD soon. I wasn’t too excited about it going in, but there aren’t too many movies with heartwarming drama and football, so it was a good date movie. It turned out better than I expected. It did what a movie should do, which is make me forget it was a movie and feel like I was sitting with these people, having their experience.
On the surface, it is a story of a white family taking in a black boy and making his life better. It’s hard to believe there still could be a story like that to tell in 2009, but it is a true story, so there it is. It is set in the South, where they love football. There is also prejudice there, but it takes a movie to really expose it. You have to get into the luncheon with the ladies at the private club to hear what they really think. Bringing an African American boy into an all white High School also helps bring it to the surface. But the movie is not about race, and the family that took the boy in didn’t do it because of the color of his skin.
When they first see him walking in the rain and offer to give him a ride, they do it just because it is the right thing to do. Michael Oher, the boy who ends up a professional football player, remains a steady character throughout while the family and the town struggle with this experience. He seems to have a mature sense of right and wrong, although he doesn’t talk much, and everyone else talks a lot trying to figure out what to do.
On his first night in their home, he opens a coffee table book of Norman Rockwell pictures and sees the one with a family gathered around a Thanksgiving table. The next day is Thanksgiving and the mother gets their dinner take out and the family gathers around the TV to watch football. Michael brings his to the big dining room table and sits down by himself. The mother sees this and realizes he is trying to find something that he never had the option to choose and that she has choosen to give up something she could easily have. The dining room table becomes a scene of important family meetings later.
What I like most about this movie is that there is nothing that is shoved in your face. Any discomfort you may feel during a scene in Michael’s neighborhood full of crack dealers is your discomfort. If the scene with the loud mouth parents at the High School football game seems familiar, it’s for you to judge where you fit. The movie doesn’t make that judgment for you. Family values are depicted, and Sandra Bullock wears a cross around her neck, but this is obviously not a traditional family unit, not even a traditional adoption.
Michael’s biological mother was perhaps the most difficult character. They could have easily depicted her as completely evil or tried to make you sympathize with her. I don’t think they did either. The movie also spends quite a bit of time showing the controversy around his recruitment to the alma mater of the family that took him in. Some may see this as excessive, but I think it brings the questions raised about race to the societal level. Every character in the movie has to ask themselves about their motivation.
I should mention that while researching for this blog, I came across a review that ripped the movie, but said the book was one of the best books on college football this decade. So, read the book if you want. I like movies.