Bullock scores a touchdown

Kate Froehlich, Executive Editor

Offensive tackle Michael Oher, the Baltimore Ravens’ first round draft pick out of Ole Miss, was featured during an ESPN pre-draft special in April. I sobbed watching the story about his life.

A few months later, while at the movies to see “Julie and Julia” with my mother, I tried, and failed, to hold back tears during the two minute preview for the movie about his life.

So I assumed that “The Blind Side,” a true story based on Oher’s heroic rise to a successful football player, was going to require tissues.

However, the movie turned out to be the perfect mix of a heartwarming and hilarious.

The film is based on the book, “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis. While the book focuses on the development of the left tackle position, the movie is about Oher’s adoption by the well-to-do Tuohy family, who gave him a home, security, and a future.

The movie started out with a breakdown of the infamous play during a 1985 game in which former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann’s leg was horrifically broken by former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor while trying to run a flea-flicker.

The play highlights the importance of Oher’s natural position, the left tackle, whose job it is to protect the quarterback’s blind side. The intro led perfectly into the story of Oher, who, throughout the course of the movie, protects his adopted mother and brother, as well as his teammates.

Sandra Bullock literally stole the show as Leigh Anne Tuohy , the interior designer that took Oher off of the streets.  She mixed a domineering personality with a heart of gold.

Tuohy’s love for Oher was evident, especially in one of her finest scenes, when she stood up to her friends who poked fun at her decision to take in Oher as her own.

Quinton Aaron, as Oher, put on a similarly fantastic performance. His actions, like constantly rubbing his knees in difficult situations, and tortured facial expressions made the heartbreak of his young life come alive. This made Aaron’s half smiles as his life improves ever the more powerful for the viewer.

I would be wrong not to mention Jae Head, who played Leigh Anne’s son S.J. He was the source of much of the comedy in the movie, especially during Oher’s recruitment scenes. In addition, Head makes sure S.J.’s close bond  with Oher is evident throughout, as S.J. becomes Oher’s best friend and biggest supporter on the football field.

Miss Sue, played by Kathy Bates, was also an entertaining character who was introduced much too late in the movie. Given more time, she could have taken a role similar to that of Head’s.  Ray McKinon as Oher’s high school coach was convincing in his ability to seamlessly switch from caring solely about Oher’s abilities on the field to passionately defending his player.

Six current and former college coaches played themselves attempting to recruit Oher.  The coaches included former South Carolina head coach Lou Holtz and former Arkansas, now Ole Miss, head coach Houston Nutt.  While Ole Miss was the school Oher ultimately decided on, he was recruited by then head coach Ed Orgeron.

I personally loved the fact that so many of the coaches have moved on from their respective schools, as none of the coaches featured are with the school they currently coach.  Some hardcore Alabama fans were probably unable to stomach Nick Saban in his LSU attire.

However, Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy and Lily Collins as Collins Tuohy were relatively weak and easily overlooked characters, in light of the strong actors that surrounded them.

The only major flaw of the movie was the frequent focus on Leigh Anne. I felt that sometimes she was highlighted more than Oher, although I do understand that her role in his life was critical to his success.

As an added bonus at the end, the filmmakers included an update on each major character. I enjoyed watching Oher’s selection in the draft as he posed with the Tuohy family, a touching moment I had unfortunately missed because of a prom earlier this year.  The entire theatre, many clad in Ravens gear, erupted into cheers while watching it.

Overall, the movie was one of the best sports movies I’ve seen in a long time. The message is poignant enough, but director John Lee Hancock was able to keep the film from becoming too sentimental.

Oher, who told Sports Illustrated he has “no plans” to see the movie, would be well-advised to change his mind.

Kate Froehlich can be reached for comment at [email protected]