Warner Bros. // 2009 // 128 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 23rd, 2010
Beth: "You're changing that boys life."
Leigh Anne Touhy: "No, he's changing mine."
I'm going to admit it right now and come clean, I love Sandra Bullock. I know that is something unhip to say as a snobby DVD critic, and coworkers will giggle when I go into the staff lounge to grab coffee. My "geek barometer" is sinking fast! But I find her charming, likable, and even sexy in her own quirky way. I feel she was the right choice to win an Oscar as Best Actress for this role, even though she was up against the likes of Meryl Streep. Despite any backlash, Sandra deserved the recognition for giving the best performance of her career and making this film's heart work. Yet it's a melancholy time to be a fan of "Miss Congeniality." After only a week or two after winning her first Oscar, poor Sandra Bullock became tabloid fodder as it was revealed her husband Jesse James cheated on her while she was in Atlanta filming The Blind Side. It would become the film that marked her greatest professional triumph as well as one of her worst personal tragedies.
The true story The Blind Side is based on is a remarkable uplifting human interest tale about the kindness of the human spirit. Leigh Anne Touhy (Bullock, Speed) was a Memphis socialite who decided she would take in a young black boy who seemed to have nowhere to go. She offered him a home, fostered his football talent, and got him through high school and college. Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron, Be Kind Rewind) ended up playing professional football for the Baltimore Ravens. At first he seemed like he would be going nowhere. He was a slow learner, a ward of the state, and had a drug addicted mother who never cared much for her children. But he was built to play football, and Leigh Anne was a fan of the game who recognized that. It's a Cinderella story where the fairy godmother turns the scrubbing poor child into an NFL player.
The Blind Side was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actress for Sandra Bullock and Best Picture of the year. It won the right trophy; the film is great because of Sandra's performance as Leigh Anne. It's certainly not a "Best Picture" contender considering its small scope and obviously dramatized version of true life events. There's a scene that encompasses everything good about the film, and it's in the trailers. When Leigh Anne tells Michael that she will prepare him a bed and he says he has never had one, the look in her eyes tells you everything you need to know about the woman who anchors this story. You know Leigh Anne is going to move heaven and earth to make Michael's life better. It's a quiet moment, not played large by Bullock, but it's there to be felt. The joy is in watching these two characters as they make each other's life rich and wonderful. Although the story seems glossed over at times, ignoring the ugly bits, the two leads make sure it feels real every step of the way. Surprisingly the supporting cast works well too, with country singer Tim McGraw (Friday Night Lights) proving he's a natural actor. There are also some cute as a button young actors to play the kids along for the ride.
Technically, the DVD does right by the film. Colors look good, and the surround audio treatment works well to provide the right atmospherics. I couldn't find much wrong with the image other than a softness in the backgrounds, but that may be more of an artistic choice from the cinematographer. The only extra is a handful of additional scenes that truly belonged on the cutting room floor. They are moments that don't quite work, but it's interesting to see them here.
What exasperates me with this DVD release is missing all the extras on the Blu-ray edition. There are no interviews with the people this film was based on, and that's a crucial part of the experience for home viewers. DVD fans are given the short end of the deal, and I cry foul. I understand studios are trying to develop a preferred format with Blu-ray, but certainly DVD consumers deserve to see the real people talking about the film that dramatized their life.
If you want to fault the film itself, there are some ways it seems to shortchange reality. First off, it never confronts the tough racist side of things that must have been issues for the family. It doesn't always feel like Memphis either. The visual cues that mark the city are not there. Atlanta was where The Blind Side was filmed, and I have to say it never looks much like Memphis to anybody who has been to Tennessee.
Even though Sandra Bullock won the Razzie this year for her work in the wretched romantic comedy All About Steve, she also took home her first Oscar for knocking it out of the park with this film. The true joy of The Blind Side is the chance to find out where Bullock excels, and how much fun it can be to watch an actress discover how best to use her charm. The DVD looks great technically, and the only gripe is the lack of extras when compared to the high definition release.
Guilty of making me respect Sandra Bullock's talent.
Review content copyright © 2010 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes