Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Blind Side

When I first heard about this movie, I was immediately interested.  I ran out to the library to check out the book and was eager to see the movie.  Any story with a positive look at interracial adoption is OK by me, and this book and movie did not dissapoint!

You have probably seen something about this movie.  Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her role as the mom.  The director, John Lee Hancock, is a Baylor grad.  Michael Oher, the subject of the film, was picked by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 draft.  And millions of people have been moved by this story of compassion, hope, and the real meaning of family.
The nutshell version of the story is that a wealthy white family takes in a homeless black teenager who is a student at their children's exclusive private school.  Although he struggles in school due to his unstructured, nomadic existence, he turns out to be a brilliant natural athlete and is highly recruited by top college football programs.  If this story wasn't true and verifiable, it would be an unbelievable fairy tale.  Are there really families that loving and ready to accept a stranger into their home?  Can a kid who has lived in the worst possible environment be as resepectful, moral, hard-working, loving, and determined as Michael?  Would a lily-white, rich private school in a highly segregated city in the American south readily accept a black street kid?  As far as I can tell from the movie, book, and press surrounding both, the answers are yes, yes, and yes.

In one of my favorite scenes in the movie, the Touhy family gathered around the dining room table for a family meeting.  Michael had been living with them for a while, and the Touhys had discussed becoming Michael's legal guardians.  Mr. Touhy said to Michael, "We were wondering if you would like to become a part of this family."  After a pause, Michael looked around the table and replied, "I kinda thought I already was."  I love this.  From the Touhy's perspective, Michael is part of the family, and they want to make it legal.  They embrace him completely as a son, even (as the book says) making him an heir on an equal footing with the biological children.  From Michael's perspective, he is surrounded by people who love him, who care for him, and to whom he is fully committed.  Isn't that family?  Is a piece of paper going to change that?  I thought this was a beautiful picture of adoption and family.

There is little about this movie not to like.  Although football coaches are not very good actors, it was fun to see the college coaches reenact their role in the recruiting of Michael.  And although Tim McGraw was likably goofy as the easy-going Sean Touhy, he's not a very good actor.  But overall, the performances were terrific, the storytelling superb, and the inspiration was strong.  The movie ends with a reflection on the number of talented kids whose lives are cut short or turned bad because of the violence and pressures of inner-city life.  Michael and the Touhys have established a foundation to help kids like Michael who aren't lucky enough to find the love and support of a family like the Touhys.

One final thought: Michael is enrolled at the private school due to the insistence and advocacy of Big Tony, with whom Michael was living at the time.  Once Tony's wife insists that Michael find another place to stay, Tony is out of the picture.  But as much as the Touhy's, Tony deserves credit for getting Michael on the right track.  If it weren't for Tony's efforts, Michael would proabably still be aimlessly living in a slum. 

One more final thought: I heard someone say this was the most Christian movie they had seen in a long time.  I have no doubt that many involved in the movie are Christians.  The Touhys are very active members of an evangelical church in Memphis, and the director has to be a Christian since he went to Baylor, right? (grin)  Seriously, even though The Blind Side is not an evangelistic film, both the Touhys and Big Tony explicitly state that helping Michael is an expression of their Christian faith in action.  The private school is Christian, and several references were made to their living up the word "Christian" in the school's name by helping Michael.  True faith, the Bible teaches, is to care for widows and orphans.  Even though not every orphan is a future NFL multimillionaire, every Christian should keep his or her eyes open for Michael Touhys in their community who are in need of a place to call family.

Bottom line, 3 1/2 stars.

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