When it comes to inspirational films about sports figures, the rental store shelves are littered with them. Some are exceptionally great, while others are so hyped up that the only thing true about the end result is that they were, at one time, actually based upon a true story even if what they resulted in being was a far cry from the truth. While there are allegations and rumors swirling around the veracity of The Blindside (which is no real surprise, given its enormous success), the movie going public has already voted with their wallets with what they think of the story—the tiny $29 million budget has been earned well over eight times just with domestic box office receipts alone. And now with Sandra Bullock’s Oscar win for Best Actress, anyone that wasn’t already a fan of the film will no doubt be by the time it bows onto DVD and Blu-ray mid-March.
Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) knows little about family. Less about football. What the homeless teen knows are the streets and projects of Memphis. Well-to-do Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) knows little about his world. Yet when she and Michael meet, he’s found a home. And the Tuohys have found something just as life-changing: a beloved new son and brother. This real-life story of family and of Michael’s growth into a blue-chip football star will have you cheering with its mix of gridiron action and heartwarming emotion. Share the remarkable journey of the college All-American and first-round NFL draft pick who was a winner before he ever stepped onto the playing field.
Yikes. That official synopsis above is not very flattering to this film, although it is somewhat accurate. It doesn’t exactly drive home the fact that this film has more to do with Leigh Anne Tuohy than Michael Oher, but in actuality the film is probably split about fifty-fifty down the middle. The complaints from viewers that the Tuohy family gets more exposure than Oher isn’t really invalid, but considering they’re as much a part of his story as he is, it’s kind of unfair to discredit the film simply because it decides to focus on one aspect of his life rather than another. This is an odd paragraph to start the review out with, but since I led in with the intro about those questioning the authenticity of this film, I thought I’d back it up with that—I’d just read an editorial in Entertainment Weekly on the subject a few weeks prior to writing this review, so that was still fresh in my mind. I was actually rather surprised how little I cared about whether or not the film was entirely genuine, as all based-on-a-true-story films have some slight twists to make them more commercially viable…but the amount of tweaks this film underwent were admittedly fewer than other similar rising-from-nothing stories (such as The Great Debaters, which was a film I was quite surprised to learn about how much was changed around for that film).
In any case there are few films from the past year that were as moving as this one. I wasn’t eagerly awaiting this film by any means, but I have to say I was quite enthralled from start to finish with this one. It is without a doubt a very sad story but it has such a beautiful and tear-inducing end to it that you can’t help but smile during the film. Which is a good thing, because at two hours long it seems like it might be a bit too much for a film of this nature, but you honestly don’t even notice it and before you know it the film is rolling its credits. The story and performances are just so good that you won’t even notice the time ticker on your player (assuming your player has one, anyway).
Obviously it was the actors and actresses that helped sell this film and it was the whole Tuohy family that helped to sell the whole kindness element of the film. It’s hard to imagine that such a wholesome family could even exist, but even as syrupy sweet as they may seem at times, they are always genuine about it. And it’s obviously Sandra Bullock’s performance here that helps drive the film, as it is quite honestly probably the best performance of her career thus far. That was evidenced by her Oscar nomination and eventual win, of course, but I saw this film months before that even happened and even then I was caught up in her performance. The scene after she shows Michael Oher his bedroom is one of the most touching and emotional scenes in the movie and if that doesn’t jump start your tear ducts then you’re probably a bit soulless.
There is a lot to enjoy about the film not just from the tear jerker standpoint, but also from the comedic side. As emotional and tense as the film can be, it’s the moments of levity in the story that help keep it from being a complete emotional rollercoaster. From the Tuohy families joking with one another or Michael, or even some of Michael’s on-the-field moments, there is as much humor in the film as there are heartfelt moments and I think that’s a big reason for the films continued accolades and praise. Quite frankly it’s a film that makes you feel good about humanity as a whole and it is something that I really Highly Recommend seeing.
The Blind Side arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with a standard slipcover. Inside the two-disc case is the Blu-ray disc itself along with a copy that contains both a DVD and Digital Copy of the film as well. Extras are sadly quite limited, but overall it’s a tidy package, although the cardboard slipcover is once again quite superfluous.
Video arrives in a VC-1 encoded 1.85:1 transfer and with the image taking up nearly the full 16×9 width of your HDTV, expect plenty of beautiful sequences full of depth, color, and detail. It’s not a film that you would need to see on Blu-ray, but its fantastic looking nonetheless, especially when there are on-field football sequences as that green grass really just pops off the screen. From the Tuohy’s home to the school that Michael goes to, there is plenty about this film to look at and enjoy. Same goes for its DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which is actually kind of overkill considering it’s such a low-key track for the most part…until Michael starts slamming into people anyway, then the LFE wakes up and thumps you in the chest. Everything about the A/V presentation is crystal clean and clear though, so if you have the capability to do so, definitely check out the Blu-ray release (and even if you don’t, do it anyway—it comes with a DVD copy anyway, so you won’t have to double dip down the road should you decide you absolutely need it on Blu-ray).
Acting Coaches: Behind the Blind Side
The Story of Big Quinton
Sidelines: Conversations on the Blind Side Sandra Bullock and Leigh Anne Tuohy
Sidelines: Conversations on the Blind Side Director John Lee Hancock & Author Michael Lewis
Exclusive Michael Oher Interview
The extras here are pretty brief, but it’s nice that they included interviews with the real life figures that inspired this movie. I would’ve loved a commentary with the same gathering that the featurettes focus on here, but I guess that’s asking too much (for now, anyway—with the Oscar win for Bullock we might end up with a double dip down the line, who knows…although those [thankfully] seem to be less frequent now). Still it’s a fair collection even if it won’t keep you busy for too long.
Overall a solid presentation and a Recommended release.
The Blind Side arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on March 16th.