Blind Side, The (2009)

Rated: PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references.
Length: 129 minutes
Grade: A-C+AB+=A-
Budget: $29 million
Box Office: $360 million (256 U.S., 42 Intl., 62 DVD)

Written and Directed by: John Lee Hancock (The Alamo, The Rookie), based on the book by Michael Lewis (Moneyball, Next)
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and Quinton Aaron.
With: Kathy Bates, Lou holtz, Nick Saban, and Tommy Tuberville.

When a large but backward-seeming and homeless black boy enrolls at a Christian high school, a local family decides to take him in and teach him football, which leads ultimately to him having an NFL career.

Entertainment Value: A-
I’m sure there are lots of people wondering why I wouldn’t give this obviously outstanding movie a simple A. Well, there were just things that irked me in an otherwise fantastic film. It all started with the quote over the archway entrance to the Christian school being a direct misquote of the Bible. Instead of the accurate, “With men this is impossible, with God all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26) the inscription read, “With men this is possible, with God all things are possible.” It just kept bothering me, especially when I saw it again later in the film. How does such a massive change go unnoticed by anyone? Second, one of the key plot elements was Michael scoring 98% on “protective instincts” on some personality test. Such a thing may really exist, but it sounded totally contrived and silly to me. Third, and this one came afterward for me, there is some subtle but significant discrepancy between the real story and the movie. Most notably, Oher was already a highly touted football player before (not after) the Tuohy’s took him into their home. This of course changes the big dynamic of the movie and also makes the NCAA inquisition look far less spurious. It was just disappointing to feel like the movie misled me on such a major factual element. All of these concerns aside, (and I know at this point it may be hard to tell) this is a great movie. The acting is great (although both Streep and Sidibe merited best actress over Bullock), and the tone of the whole thing is wonderful. Plus, the Christian (and anti-Christian) themes are so enjoyable to see in a “real” movie.

Superficial Content: C+
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity B, Violence C+, Language C
Almost all of this movie is perfectly PG, with just a few language issues and one car crash with no serious injuries. However, there is one scene toward the end which shows a drug dealer with his gang and prostitutes and there is a fight and some threats of violence plus heavier language. The movie needed that scene, and it couldn’t have been done any differently, but this is a case where PG-13 is all of about three minutes toward the end. Otherwise PG.

Significant Content: A
The beauty of this movie is that it shows Christian charity in practice as a well-to-do family takes in and eventually adopts a boy whose mother was an addict and who shuffled around the foster system for years until they found him. (By all accounts, this is the actual reason they took him in, by the way. It just didn’t match up chronologically with the film). It also very honestly shows the anti-Christian attitudes of several other people who claim to be Christian, either who say it’s reckless to spend time with him or who won’t associate with him because of his background or else don’t think it’s worth their time to try to reach him educationally.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
As I mentioned before, some of the discrepancies bugged me, but the overall thought value here is quite good. Stereotypes of both wealthy and poor people are both represented and challenged. Christian charity is shown in action, which is simply marvelous in any modern film. And it’s chock full of tender, loveable moments that nevertheless avoid being mere sentimentality by seeming far too honest to be only that.

Discussion Questions:
~At one point Michael asks Leigh Ann whether she did the things she did for him or for her own purposes. What is he getting at? How is this question at the heart of what distinguishes real love from self-serving prudence?
~When she second-guesses her own motives, what does that reveal about her character? Why does Christianity uniquely allow you to be willing to see potential ugliness in yourself? Why is a legalist/moralist unwilling to even consider this?
~Shortly thereafter, she asks her husband whether she’s a good person. What does this reveal about her character? Does a Christian ask this question of herself?
~Would you describe the Tuohys as a Christian family? Why so or why not? Do they ever lead Michael to Christ? Does this matter in the context of how they live?
~The Gospel message is that Jesus died for even the most worthless people. Given that Michael has both tremendous athletic potential and also is such a clear sweetheart, is the Tuohy’s love for him as pure as Jesus’s love for really wretched people? How much would this movie have changed if Michael had shown himself to be dangerous or unstable?
~Is your emotional attitude toward Michael pity or compassion? What’s the difference? What was the Tuohy’s attitude?
~Imagine that the Tuohys actually did do all of this in order to recruit Michael to Ole Miss. Although it clearly wouldn’t be as wonderful as if they were doing it merely for charity, would it be so bad? What could the consequences of allowing this be? Would it be better for troubled athletes?
~Although race is certainly an element of this movie, do you think that race is really a part of what’s going on here? How might any of this movie been different if all the races had been different?
~Do the factual discrepancies bother you in this movie? Why or why not?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The tea party with the ladies. Why were they so surprised that she had already been thinking seriously about adoption? Why does she say, “Shame on you,” to her friends for suggesting he might be dangerous? How does her defense of Michael against her wealthy friends remind you of Jesus’s attitude towards us?
~Leigh Ann meeting Michael’s mother in her public housing apartment.
~Lily choosing to sit with Michael in the library rather than with her friends.
~The truck crash. How would you have reacted to this event if you had been the Tuohys? How does their reaction demonstrate abundant grace rather than just "trial period" grace?
~The scene at the gang leaders apartment.
Overall Grade: A-
Excellent. See it if you haven’t.

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