By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — An inscription over the entry gate of the Memphis, Tenn., school where some of the early scenes of the inspirational family drama "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.) are set reads: "With God all things are possible" (Mt 19:26). That Bible verse aptly characterizes the remarkable series of real-life events first recounted in Michael Lewis’ 2006 best-seller "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," and here adapted for the screen.
The Christian academy in question is the meeting place of homeless, solitary and emotionally shell-shocked black teen Michael Oher (appealing newcomer Quinton Aaron) and two fellow students — white children of privilege Collins (Lily Collins) and S.J. (Jae Head) Tuohy — whose family is destined to transform his life and to be, in turn, transformed by him.
This seemingly unlikely scenario comes about thanks to the impulsive compassion of the Tuohy children’s feisty mother, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock). Spotting Michael wandering the streets on a winter night dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt, no-nonsense Leigh Anne — whose motivations throughout are shown to be explicitly religious — bundles him into the family car and, with the quiet support of admiring hubby Sean (Tim McGraw), offers him the living room couch for the night.
As this arrangement becomes more permanent — and Michael becomes an increasingly integral part of the Tuohy clan — socialite Leigh Anne, a successful interior decorator, discovers both the latent prejudices of the ladies with whom she lunches and the grim realities of life in Michael’s home neighborhood, an area appropriately known as Hurt Village that, although just across town, has previously been terra incognita to her.
Michael’s original admission to his otherwise all-white private school was based on a coach’s (Ray McKinnon) perception of his football potential. (As Bullock’s opening narration makes clear, Michael has the perfect build to play left tackle, a key position charged with defending a right-handed quarterback from being sacked from his blind side.).
But Michael’s education has been so woefully neglected that his grades are far below the requisite average that would allow him to join the team. So his adoptive kin set to work, helping Michael to hone his on-field skills while also hiring determined tutor Miss Sue (Kathy Bates) to raise his academic standing.
Driven by Bullock’s field-sweeping performance, writer-director John Lee Hancock’s unapologetically Christian tale of human solidarity across racial and class divides — though restricted to adult and, perhaps, mature teen audiences by the elements listed below — is funny, shrewd and ultimately uplifting.
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.
The film contains brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, at least one profanity, a few sexual and drug references, and a half-dozen crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.