When Sandra Bullock accepted her Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in The Blind Side, she dedicated it to the mothers of the world who don't get enough praise and recognition for what they do. She then went on to thank her own mother, who she tearfully admitted to not always appreciating the way she should have. You see actors make these kinds of remarks in acceptance speeches all the time, but if you check out The Blind Side on DVD, you'll realize just how sincere she was.
Many, many movies have been made about determined men and women who have risen up from humble beginnings to achieve athletic glory. The story of how Michael Oher went from being a homeless ward of the state as a teenager to a college football star and first-round NFL draft pick is remarkable, but nothing that hasn't been seen in a sports movie before. What makes The Blind Side feel fresh and different is that it doesn't paint football or even wealth as Michael's savior. More than anything else, this is a story about the power of familial love.
Bullock anchors the film as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a rich, white Southern woman who comes across a homeless black teenage boy walking in the rain one night and invites him into her family's home. When it became apparent that "Big Mike" needs more than just a couch to crash on for the night, she decides to provide for him without even batting an eyelash. While a lesser film may have saddled Leigh Anne with a whiny husband and bratty kids who would resent having to share her time and energy, writer/director John Lee Hancock recognizes there's already enough drama in the story -- there's no need to add any angst. The Tuohys are a family you'd actually want to become a part of. They eat dinner together (even if it is in front of the TV most nights), speak honestly with each other, root for the same sports teams, and genuinely cheer each other on. Michael, who had never done homework in his life before meeting the Tuohys, is able to succeed in school and on the football field not because he now has someone buying him new clothes and pick-up trucks, but because he now knows what it means to be part of a family. The scene where Leigh Anne marches on to the field during practice to lecture Michael on how to use his natural defensive instincts to block his opponents may be a too-literal representation of the film's message, but it's such a good message that it is hard to muster up an eye roll.
What really sells the story is the conviction in Bullock's performance. Her respect for Leigh Anne Tuohy, and mothers in general, shines through in every scene. You believe in her performance because even if she doesn't quite resemble your own mother, she'll remind you of the aunt or the friend's mother that you've always feared/admired. If you're willing to cast cynicism aside and overlook some slight inconsistencies in the plot (the issue of Michael's paternity is portrayed with contradicting information), this is an uplifting, entertaining DVD to watch with your family on a Sunday afternoon.