By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
My expectations were low for The Blind Side, a film whose trailer rubbed me the wrong way. I’m all for inspirational films, but this one looked like an overcooked, manipulative tearjerker with Sandra Bullock stepping way outside of her comfort zone to play a Good Samaritan Southern Belle who helps a struggling black teen with a painful past. I was afraid the film would exploit or gloss over the true pains of African-Americans struggling to escape the projects. I was afraid Sandra Bullock, whose forte is romantic comedies, would annoy with an attempt at a Southern accent. I was afraid that the power of this true story would be lost in hackneyed and trite film-making.
My fears were unfounded, and one cannot, it appears, judge a film by its trailer. This is one of the best mainstream films about Christians I’ve ever seen, possessing charm, integrity, and honesty in spades. Bullock’s stab at a Southern accent, while dubious in a two-minute trailer, is actually quite convincing when viewed in the complete film. She truly loses herself in the role, and much to my surprise, I’d like to see her win an Oscar for her tough-love portrayal of a woman whose cannot help but help others. Country-music superstar Tim McGraw, as her husband, proves himself a capable actor, Granted, he doesn’t have to do any heavy emotional lifting in the film, but his ability to deliver lines of dry humor was an unexpected delight. Newcomer Quinton Aaron, as the young man helped by Bullock’s family, conveys a great deal of pain, sorrow, and joy with his eyes.
The film is less about sports than about charity, and thus avoids plenty of potential clichés. The fact that the film has a great deal of sassy humor, a sound portrayal of a loving marriage and family, and positive depictions of people of faith cements its status as a crowd-pleaser. While most audiences will never have the financial means of those in this family, it is nevertheless a stirring tale that inspires viewers to look for the potential in others and lift them up to meet it.
If The Blind Side whet your appetite for inspirational true-story race-relations sports movies, give Remember the Titans a try!