Making the Grades
Sports stories are fertile ground for inspirational scripts, and The Blind Side reaps a bounteous harvest from this true account of Michael Oher, a real life football star who was drafted by the NFL earlier in 2009.
Michael (played by Quinton Aaron) doesn’t have much going for him when Mr. and Mrs. Touhy find him walking on the side of a road one cold wet evening. Coming from a broken home, and one of over a dozen siblings, the hulking black boy has been accepted into a Christian school because of his football potential—but his academic skills need serious work. Even more distressing, his quiet demeanor covers the fact that he is homeless.
The white Touhy’s are on the other side of the privilege fence. Sean (Tim McGraw) is a successful businessman and Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) is heavily involved in the lives of her son and teenaged daughter (Jae Head and Lily Collins)—she’s a typical soccer mom. Yet they each realize passing by “Big Mike” would be inconsistent with the beliefs they claim to hold. Taking the teen into their home, for what is supposed to be just a night or two, turns into a far longer commitment that returns surprising benefits to both parties.
The Blind Side is one of those rare movies that demonstrates religious principles in a subtle way. While the Christian woman isn’t perfect (and Bullock plays the role with a bit of her usual edge), she is obviously a caring individual—even if she’s not afraid to give the football coach (or anyone else for that matter) a piece of her opinionated mind. Yet it is the humble Michael who ends up teaching her a few much-needed lessons—especially when he opens her eyes to a world where her pat answers and ready solutions don’t address the real problems.
As heartwarming and inviting as the film appears to be, parents should be aware that it also contains some infrequent profanities and other content concerns. A meeting between Leigh Anne and Michael’s mother (Adriane Lenox) reveals the effects of drug addictions on the family. Later, a lineup of football scouts arrive to convince the budding athlete to attend their school and in the midst of this Mrs. Touhy learns one of them took Michael to a topless bar (although a more crude term is used to describe what happened). Another scene depicts an altercation between Michael and some men from his former neighborhood, when crude sexual comments are made about the Touhy’s. After Michael uses his physical skills to retaliate, a gun is pulled out and fired (no one is shot). Finally his adopted mother jokingly threatens to “cut off” a part of his anatomy if he ever gets a girl pregnant.
Yet, the balance of this movie is definitely positive and motivating. Although it may come across a little sentimental at times, the core of this story is true (in fact the real Touhy family accompanied Michael when he accepted his NFL draft invitation). The Blind Side serves as a strong reminder to look around and see those we might be passing by on the side of the road.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Blind Side.
What do you think motivated the Touhy family to bring Michael into their lives? Do you think the risk they took was reasonable? If you were to meet someone like Michael, how would you or your family react? In what other ways could you assist someone?
Kathy Bates plays a tutor in this film, who identifies herself as a Democrat and as a religious person with doubts. The Touhys later comment that she is the first Democrat they have known. Do you think these statements are examples of religious and political stereotyping? How do you feel about the connections sometimes drawn between religious faith and political leanings?
This movie is based on Michael Lewis book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, where he recounts the real life experiences of Michael Oher who became a First Round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, selected by the Baltimore Ravens. Click here to learn more about Michael Oher.