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The Blind Side

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Produced by Broderick Johnson
Andrew Kosove
Gil Netter
Written by Story:
Michael Lewis
Screenplay:
John Lee Hancock
Starring Sandra Bullock
Tim McGraw
Quinton Aaron
Kathy Bates
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Alar Kivilo
Editing by Mark Livolsi
Studio Alcon Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) November 20, 2009 (2009-11-20)
Running time 128 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $29 million[1]
Gross revenue $263,136,267[1]

The Blind Side is a 2009 American drama–sports film written and directed by John Lee Hancock, and based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis.[2][3] The storyline features Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who plays for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. The film follows Oher from his impoverished upbringing, through his years at Wingate Christian School (a fictional representation of Briarcrest Christian School in Cordova, Tennessee[4]), his adoption by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, and on to his position as one of the most highly coveted prospects in college football. The British release date for the film has been announced to be March 12, 2010. For her performance, Sandra Bullock won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and an Academy Award for Best Actress. The film itself also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

The film stars Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher, Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, Oher's adoptive parents, and Kathy Bates as Miss Sue, Oher's tutor.[2] The movie also features appearances by several current and former NCAA coaches, including SEC coaches Houston Nutt and Ed Orgeron (Oher's coaches in college, though Nutt represented Arkansas at the time and therefore does so in the film) and Nick Saban (who was at LSU at the time and represents them in the film), former coaches Lou Holtz, Tommy Tuberville, Phillip Fulmer, as well as recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.[5]

The title is a football reference: when dropping back to pass, a quarterback will turn to the side of his throwing hand, his opposite side becomes "blind" to rushing defensive players. For most quarterbacks, as they are right-handed, the left side is their "blind side" (Oher switched to left offensive tackle while in college, which required him to protect the quarterback's blind side).

Contents

Plot

For 17 years, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) has been in foster care with different families. Every time he is sent to a new home, he runs off. One of his friend's fathers, whose couch Mike had been sleeping on, enrolls him into a Christian school, after the father convinces the coach that "Big Mike" is a natural athlete, yet he refuses to beat people to the ground. The coach convinces the school principal to enroll him into the school. After school one day, Michael meets Sean "SJ" Jr. (Jae Head), who quickly befriends Michael. Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) is a fiery interior designer, mother to SJ and Collins (Lily Collins), and wife to Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw). After a pre-holiday Thanksgiving school festival, Leigh Anne notices Michael walking on the road, shivering in the freezing cold; she pities his situation and offers him a place to spend the night. The next morning, much to her dismay, she finds Michael leaving their driveway and asks him to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Slowly, Michael starts becoming a part of the Tuohy family, even as Leigh Anne's friends warn her that Michael could affect SJ and Collins' social life. Nonetheless, SJ and Michael become buddies. Leigh Anne goes to the school about Michael's academic performance and is surprised to learn that even though he has scored low in essentially every aspect, he scored in the 98th percentile in 'protective instincts.' Sean also takes to Michael and lists the Tuohys as his emergency contact and talks to the school coach to get Michael enrolled in the football team.

Possessed of enormous stature and titanic strength, Michael performs exceptionally on the field and catches the eye of many college coaches from around the state. SJ tells Michael that his mother cannot stand Tennessee. Leigh Anne comes to know that to get a NCAA Division I Scholarship, Michael needs a 2.5 GPA; his current GPA is too low, so they hire a private tutor, Miss Sue (Kathy Bates), to raise his grades. The school teachers also take a special interest and start giving his tests orally rather than in written format. During one of his private tutor classes, Miss Sue, a University of Mississippi alumna, tells him that the FBI bury the body parts of the unrecognized dead people under the football field of University of Tennessee. Michael's heart aches and this is possibly shown as a reason for Michael opting to join University of Mississippi ending with a 2.52 GPA. Subsequently, Michael receives a call from the NCAA, who suspects that the Tuohys forced Michael to select Mississippi, rather than Tennessee, his home-state team. The investigator also tells him that the Tuohys were from Mississippi and his high school coach got a better job at Ole Miss after Michael chooses Mississippi.

Michael leaves the investigation room and confronts Leigh Anne; he asks her if she only took him in so that he would play football for her alma mater. Michael goes to his birth mother's apartment in the projects, where his old friends at first welcome him, then make sexually suggestive remarks about his adoptive mother and sister. A fight ensues, where Michael easily dispatches three armed thugs, and flees the scene. Leigh Anne waits for Michael at home but when he does not show up, she goes in search of Michael. He finally calls her, and they meet at a neighborhood laundromat. Leigh Anne tells him that she will accept his decision on football and what to do with his life. Michael tells the investigator that he chose Ole Miss because his whole family has gone to school there. Michael gets accepted to Ole Miss with a scholarship for football. Leaving Michael at school, Leigh Anne feels happy for what she has done for Michael and also what he has done for them all.

The film ends with the 2009 NFL Draft, showing the real-life Michael Oher being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.

Cast

Production

The Blind Side is a film of Alcon Entertainment and a distribution of Warner Bros. The film was partially filmed at The Atlanta International School and The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, and features many of their students.[6] The film premiered on November 17 in New York City and New Orleans, and opened in theaters on November 20 in the United States and Canada.[7] Academy Award winner Julia Roberts was originally offered to star in the film but, just as she did with what became Bullock's blockbuster role in The Proposal, Roberts turned it down.[8]

According to Reuters, the film's production budget was $29 million. Sandra Bullock, who had initially turned down the starring role three times due to discomfort with portraying a devout Christian[9], was not only won over, she took a pay cut and agreed to receive a percentage of the profits.[10]

Reception

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Accolades

The Blind Side has earned numerous awards and nominations for the lead performance of the film's star, Sandra Bullock.

Awards and Nominations
Award Category Nominee Result
Academy Award Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Sandra Bullock Won
Best Motion Picture Film Nominated
Critic’s Choice Award Best Actress Sandra Bullock Won (tied with Meryl Streep)
Golden Globe Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Sandra Bullock Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Sandra Bullock Won
People's Choice Award Favorite Movie Actress Sandra Bullock Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Sandra Bullock Nominated

Critical reception

The film received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that, as of March 1, 2010, 69% of 144 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.2 out of 10. The site's general consensus is that "It might strike some viewers as a little too pat, but The Blind Side has the benefit of strong source material and a strong performance from Sandra Bullock."[11] Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 58%, based on a sample of 24 reviews.[12] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 53 based on 28 reviews.[13]

Ann Hornaday of Washington Post gave a positive review of the film writing: "There's been something off-putting about the ad campaign for 'The Blind Side,' a drama about a white woman who adopts an African American high school student, from trailers trafficking in nearly every troubling African American stereotype in movies (from the Magical Negro to the surly low-level bureaucrat), to posters featuring the patronizing image of Sandra Bullock gently leading her looming, gentle giant of a son down a football field. It turns out that 'The Blind Side' is much better than its ads... Grounded in the direct, disarming truth of their experience, the movie has a straightforward lack of cheap sentiment that saves it from being either too maudlin or saccharine-sweet."[14]

Betsy Sharkey writing for Los Angeles Times "Wisely, Hancock has given the film as much humor as heart, whether it's Michael bench-pressing SJ or Leigh Anne calling in plays to a very irritated high school coach."[15]

Michael Medved gave The Blind Side four stars out of four, calling the film "funny, touching, [and] enormously satisfying." Medved added that, "Sandra Bullock's Oscar worthy performance is without question the best work of her career."[16]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called the film "a feel-good movie that never stops feeling good. The film is based on a true story..., but you never honestly feel that Hancock has captured what's true about it... He's so devoted to showing us what upbeat, selfless folks Leigh Anne and her family are that the movie never quite gets around to discovering what any of those far superior saintly-family TV shows surely would have: a dramatic conflict... what The Blind Side offers is a kind of liberal Hollywood version of conservative values: all rock-solid valor, all the time. The result isn't solid at all — it's more like cotton-candy uplift."[17]

Others, such as Scott Tobias from The Onion's A.V. Club were less convinced, giving it a "D" and calling it "a new low" in the "long, troubled history of well-meaning white paternalism" in sports movies. [18] According to David Fear from Time Out New York, the film displays "blinkered middle-class pandering at its most shameless." [19]

Box office

The Blind Side opened in 3,110 theaters on its opening weekend, the weekend of November 20, 2009. It grossed a very strong $34,510,000 in its opening weekend, the second highest gross of that weekend, behind the The Twilight Saga: New Moon. It was the highest-grossing opening weekend of Sandra Bullock's career. The per-theater average for The Blind Side's opening weekend was $11,096.[20] In its opening weekend, the movie already proved to be a financial success, having a budget of just $29,000,000. It proved to have remarkable staying power, taking in an additional $9.5 million, bringing its gross to $60,125,000 by the weekend of November 27, 2009.[21] The movie enjoyed a very rare greater success for the second weekend than it did in its opening weekend, taking in an estimated $40 million, an increase of 18 percent, from November 27 to November 29, 2009, bringing its gross to $100,250,000.[1] In its third weekend, the movie continued its trend of rare feats by moving up to the number one position with $20.4 million in sales after spending the previous two weekends in second place for a total gross of $128.8 million.[22] In its fourth weekend, it moved down to second place, dropping a slim 23% with an estimated $15.5 million for a total of $150.2 million in the United States and Canada as of December 13, 2009.[22] The film hit $200 million domestically on January 1, 2010, marking the first time a movie marketed with a sole actress' name above the title (Bullock's) has crossed the $200 million mark.[23] The Blind Side has also become the highest grossing football movie and sports drama of all time domestically [24][25], unadjusted for ticket inflation.[26]

Home media

The Blind Side will be released on DVD and Blu-ray March 23, 2010.

References

  1. ^ a b c "The Blind Side Box Office". Box Office Mojo. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=blindside.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  2. ^ a b Dave McNary (2009-03-27). "Kathy Bates to star in 'Blind Side'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118001814.html?categoryid=1236&cs=1. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  3. ^ "The Blind Side (2009)". Internet Movie Database. 2009-04-22. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0878804/. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  4. ^ Briarcrest opted out of feature role in 'The Blind Side' from CommercialAppeal.com
  5. ^ Schlabach, Mark (2009-06-29). "Prominent coaches turn actors for film". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=4277330. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  6. ^ The Blind Side - Filming locations
  7. ^ The Blind Side - Release dates
  8. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (2009-12-16). "A Bonanza Year for Sandra Bullock". latimes.com. http://theenvelope.latimes.com/env-et-globesfilm16-2009dec16,0,5476124.story. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  9. ^ Swartzendruber, Jay (2009-11-17). "Believers Walk the Talk in The Blind Side". Crosswalk.com. http://www.crosswalk.com/movies/11616855/. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  10. ^ "Sandra Bullock scores touchdown at box office" on Reuters.com
  11. ^ "The Blind Side (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1212694-blind_side/. Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  12. ^ "The Blind Side (Top Critics)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1212694-blind_side/?critic=creamcrop. Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  13. ^ "The Blind Side: Reviews (2009)". Metacritic. CNET Networks. http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/blindside. Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  14. ^ "When the story carries the ball" from The Washington Post
  15. ^ "Review: 'The Blind Side'" from Los Angeles Times
  16. ^ Blind Side Review from media.townhall.com
  17. ^ The Blind Side from EW.com
  18. ^ "The Blind Side". Scott Tobias. A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-blind-side,35586/. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  19. ^ "The Blind Side". David Fear. Time Out New York. http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/film/80764/the-blind-side-film-review. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  20. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for November 20-22, 2009 from Box Office Mojo
  21. ^ Daily Box Office for Thursday, November 26, 2009 from Box Office Mojo
  22. ^ a b "'Blind Side' tops 'New Moon' at box office" from Hollywood Reporter
  23. ^ "'Avatar' passes $300 million mark on Friday, and Sandra Bullock makes box-office history" from Hollywood Insider
  24. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=football.htm
  25. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=sportsdrama.htm
  26. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=2634&p=.htm

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