Bullock gives a winning performance in ‘The Blind Side’

By Azia Squire

“The Blind Side”

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw

Directed by John Lee… “The Blind Side”

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw

Directed by John Lee Hancock

Studio: Alcon Entertainment

Grade: B

We’ve all seen this movie before — a tragically misunderstood kid is rescued by a welcoming and affluent family who sees something in him that no one ever has before. After a few setbacks, a happy ending ensues for everyone.

“The Blind Side” doesn’t deviate too much from this formula, probably because it’s based on a book (“The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game”), which originates from the true story of the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive lineman Michael Oher. After enduring an impoverished childhood, he ends up at Briarcrest Christian School where he begins to play football — the sport that essentially saves his life — and meets the people who quickly become his family.

Sandra Bullock plays the no-nonsense, rich, intensely Christian and Republican (she meets her “first Democrat” in one scene) Leigh Anne Tuohy, who is the first to lend “Big Mike” (Quinton Aaron) a helping hand by allowing him to sleep on her family’s couch. Bullock has always been a dynamic actress, and she manages to add unexpected layers to the character. One of her more charming moments in the film is when she goes toe-to-toe with an easily forgettable one-dimensional villain about the kind of gun she carries.

Though it has its heartwarming moments, “The Blind Side” also has its heavy-handed moments. It’s also pleasantly aware of its own flawed attempts at analyzing the psychological state of Big Mike (“He doesn’t trust men,” Bullock explains about Big Mike to his coach, “they pretend to care about you until they disappear”).

Aaron is the personification of watching paint dry. He spends the majority of the film staring meaningfully at generic symbols of happiness, like the balloons floating in the sky that distract him during football practice. Unfortunately, when he does directly answer a question, he ends up dropping anvils, like announcing to Leigh Anne that he’s actually never had a bed when she mistakenly assumes that he’s just never had his own room.

Big Mike does have chemistry with the youngest son, S.J. (Jae Head). The witty, adorable kid is reminiscent of Hayden Panettiere’s performance as Sheryl in “Remember the Titans.” He is also responsible for the majority of the laughs in the movie — not that he has much competition with Lily Collins’ comatose portrayal of Collins, the conveniently named eldest daughter.

The film draws strength by gracefully and sensitively addressing many issues, including the idea of a family bringing a boy it doesn’t know into its home with its teenage daughter, racial issues and the whereabouts of Big Mike’s biological parents.

The film definitely has its moments of inconsistencies and omissions, which is to be expected of many films “based on a true stories.” Toward the end the true conflict comes to fruition. You’ll definitely find yourself wishing the story had taken another perspective on the dead horse that is the unlucky-kid-gets-a-second-chance-at-life story. The fact that Big Mike’s talent rests in football itself is a cliche.

Still, despite its formulaic pitfalls, “The Blind Side” manages to be somewhat entertaining and gives those heartstrings a hefty tug when you least expect it.