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Friday Night at the Movies: Blind Side Review

posted by Scot McKnight
MOVIE REVIEW: “The Blind Side”
by Jeremy Berg
www.jeremyberg.org
The most inspiring, heart-warming cinematic experience of 2009 for me was without question The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock. While this movie based on a true story is sure to win over everybody’s heart, there is a special significance for Christians viewers.  Coming out just in time for the Christmas season I found this film radiating with echoes of the gospel and the heart of true Christian faith and love.  Let me share a few of these observations below.  But first a brief synopsis:
“The Blind Side” depicts the story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. At the same time, Oher’s presence in the Touhys’ lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own. Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. As a football player and student, Oher works hard and, with the help of his coaches and adopted family, becomes an All-American offensive left tackle.”

Sandra Bullock has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of southern belle Leigh Anne Tuohy whose Christian convictions lead her to take in and “adopt” the all-but-forgotten Michael Oher and raise him as her own. The film certainly didn’t trumpet the gospel and is by no means “preachy” at all.  Yet, the director is to be commended for making it relatively plain what was the key motivating influence in the Tuohy household — Christ. The Washington Post shares some of Sandra Bullock’s personal thoughts on playing the role of this evangelical Christian woman HERE.
Here are a couple of my observations related to Leigh Anne’s “living out” her Christian faith and how the gospel shines through this story.
1. Christians leave their comfort zones, go to those in need and get their hands dirty in self-sacrificial love and service. In the film the racial and socioeconomic wall between the Tuohys and the world of Michael Oher is high indeed.  Nothing is more moving and admirable than when Leigh Anne leaves her safe and well-off world of wealth and privilege to risk her reputation and life by going into the projects with Michael.  Her lady friends (certainly far from the heartbeat of Jesus even if churchgoers themselves) can’t understand what would motivate her to welcome this large African American teenager into their home and let him near her daughter. Leigh Anne sees Michael through the eyes of Christ and shows unconditional love and acceptance.  She models Phil 2:5-10 and the good samaritan as she identifies with another’s suffering and is willing to risk and sacrifice herself for the sake of the other.
2. This is a story of redemption. Michael is given a new start, a second chance, a clean-slate and a hope of a better life made possible by the gracious sacrifice of the Tuohy family.  So many fall through the cracks of society and go unnoticed because Christians fall short of incarnating the love of Christ and being the hands and feet of Jesus. Thankfully, folks like Leigh Anne Tuohy can inspire us all to take more strides toward Christlike love toward the least, the lost and the forgotten in our world.
3. Adoption is at the heart the gospel.The Bible is clear that we were all lost and estranged from the family of God apart from Christ.  Central to the good news of the gospel is that we are adopted as sons and daughters of God in Christ and given a new family in which we can discover our true calling and experience the “life to the full” God desires for us (John 10:10). This is powerfully described in passages such as these: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12). “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).”  
We should all share the gratitude of Michael as we reflect back on our own spiritual adoption into the family of God where we now share in all the gifts and blessings of God.  I am encouraged to see how many Christians are taking seriously the call to be those on the forefront of adopting the world’s orphans.  Adoption is certainly an act of worship and obedience close to the heart of God.
I could go on and on.  But if a picture is worth a thousand words, this motion picture is worth a million.  Therefore, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend going to see it immediately.  A magnificent story and beautiful film.
Did you see this film?  What did you think?  


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terry timm

posted February 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm


i did see the film and while i agree that it has a emotional warmth to it (and we all need that ever once and awhile), overall it was a weak film. the writing was average at best and filled with trite clich?s, there was little true character development (and there was great potential here – for example, what about Micheal’s brother?) and the acting was weak (Tim McGraw, really?)
sorry to disagree -but i think this is one of the most overrated films of the year.



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Gloria

posted February 12, 2010 at 5:54 pm


Loved, loved, loved this movie. There was nothing trite about it, and it was full of wonderful messages.



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Brian

posted February 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm


Didn’t see the film, but loved the book. I hope to see it eventually.



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Len

posted February 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm


Loved it , also “The Soloist”



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 12, 2010 at 6:45 pm


I really enjoyed the film. I thought Bullock did a masterful job bringing her role to life. I’d see it again.



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Matt Nightingale

posted February 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm


I liked the movie. It was totally nice, feel-good, inspirational. Took my kids. But really? Best Picture nominee? Best Actress? No. Sorry.
And it probably won’t be popular to say this, but wasn’t it just a wee bit… I don’t know, racist? I thought this was a pretty insightful article: http://www.dallasobserver.com/2009-11-19/film/the-blind-side-what-would-black-people-do-without-nice-white-folks/
Ouch.



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michael harris

posted February 12, 2010 at 8:49 pm


loved the movie. But it had no religous overtones. It was a movie about love. My religion — Judiasm — is as much about love as Christianity.Sandra Bullock deerves an award as does the young son.



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Doug

posted February 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm


Matt #6 – Those who insist on seeing the world in “black and white” and perpetuating the problem of racism might draw the conclusion of that racist article you though to be insightful. For those who saw the movie and watched it without looking for racism saw only a family of privilege (that happened to be white) helping an underprivileged boy (who happened to be black). Let’s leave it at that.
The article Matt links above, which I only could stand one paragraph of, says:
“Blind Side the movie peddles the most insidious kind of racism, one in which whiteys are virtuous saviors, coming to the rescue of blacks who become superfluous in narratives that are supposed to be about them.”
Give me a break.



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Unaplogetic catholic

posted February 12, 2010 at 9:23 pm


That article must have seen a different movie.
In the movie I saw, Michael worked his ass off! And he did it on his own. Nothing was “given” to him and nothing was “made easy” for him. In spite of terrible circumstances, he overcame incredible odds through hard work, dilligence and the kindness of strangers.
That’s racist?



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joel shaffer

posted February 13, 2010 at 12:04 am


I might agree with the Dallas movie reviewer about the charge of racism…..if the movie wasn’t based on a true story. Yes, it smells of the white-savior syndrome, but it also happened to be true! In real life there are privileged white people that reach out to at-risk African-American youth, just as there are African-Americans that reach out to at-risk white youth. In our ministry (Urban Transformation Ministries) Davien, a former at-risk student (who happens to be African-American) that I mentored for the last fifteen years is currently mentoring an at-risk middle-school age white kid that has no father-figure in the home. In diverse urban neighborhoods like mine, it is not uncommon to see compassion as a two-way street among different ethnic groups…….



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Naum

posted February 13, 2010 at 12:22 am


I already was prepared for whitewashing after reading the book and knew what segments would be hammed up and what poetic license would be taken (for instance, the part about Michael not knowing how to play football). And Michael Lewis is a gifted writer.
But I shared none of this with my wife before seeing movie. And, odd, she was struck with the racism reflected in the film ? all the typical stereotypes, the totally white audience in the theater, etc.?
Some questions, though?
?the stereotypical black characters? ?real life is more complex than simple caricatures? ?though this is par for the course for Hollywood productions, and it is sept so much into our consciousness, we fail to even take notice anymore?
?what if Oher didn’t possess awe-striking football playing ability? What he have been received as well at the school and quartered by the Touhy family.
?on screen, not much attention given to Papa Touhy (though a bit more in book), owner of fast food franchises, he himself living an affluent life while employing hundreds of workers with not enough pay for their own homes? No, not an assault on free market capitalism here, just a recognition of weird offsets ? for instance, major league baseball giving $1M to Haiti even though NY alone siphoned billions from taxpayers for stadiums and MLB was the recipient of cheap labor baseballs for years?
Some elements of the movie were quite redeeming. But I just kept conjuring up this MLK quote?
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ~MLK



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Ron

posted February 13, 2010 at 10:21 am


The movie is modern variant of “The Good Samaritan” story. It is not racist or stereotypical. For the critics everything positive and good is racist and stereotypical.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm


What made the whole movie appealing was precisely the fact that Touhy family was not your politically correct poster family. What I appreciated about this movie was the appearance of this “alien” in the midst of this white upper middle-class world. Their journey into discerning what is right and having the courage to act was messy and transforming.
None of us are God. We can’t transform the world to total shalom. But at a minimum we can deal responsibly with the opportunities we are presented with. I don’t need my heroes in the movies … or in real life … to morph into perfect sainthood before I can identify with struggles and transformations, or affirm the positive aspect of their stories.
The race question is a messy one all throughout the movie. Welcome to real life.



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Karl

posted February 15, 2010 at 1:09 pm


Haven’t seen the movie yet but would like to.
Read the book and really enjoyed it. And, have watched multiple interviews on the story with the Tuohy family, Michael Oher, and Sandra Bullock.
The suggestion of racism is understandable but wrong-headed, IMO. There is real racism that needs to be combatted. What the Tuohy family did in helping Michael Oher isn’t in that category.
I agree that the Tuohy’s are compelling precisely because they are unabashedly not PC. They aren’t perfect and don’t claim to be. They are a conservative, strongly opinionated, affluent republican white family in Mississippi. Sandra Bullock said she didn’t think there could be a woman more different than her, than Leann Tuohy. She didn’t want the part initially. She was intimidated by this conservative, handgun-toting, republican woman. But she came to respect her, and found her compelling. It’s a fascinating story and yes, there are plenty of questions to ask on the back side of it – like what about all the kids who need help but don’t have a Tuohy family to help them, or what about the kids who aren’t athletically gifted? But how about just letting this story stand on its own as a heart warming story, too?



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Christine

posted February 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm


I think that perhaps what Matt and the article writer are alluding to is that the movie was more about Leann Tuohy than about Michael. And they did that in all sorts of ways: implying that Michael didn’t know how to football (not true) and that he needed the image of Leann and sticking up for family to help him be a successful football player. Gosh, what about Michael being a good player on his own merit without this made-up story line that shows Leann as so incredibly indispensable to his success, and ‘the hero.’ If there’s another hero in this story, imo, it is the selfless tutor who actually moved to be near Michael to help him through college as well.
But on another note . . . Sandra Bullock for best actress? Really??? Did any of you sense you were watching an academy award worthy performance if you saw this movie before the award-season hype?
Our local paper rates the movie a C- which I agree with, and Sandra, best actress, really??? Give me the truly gifted, awe-inspiring Meryl Streep any day. It’s been 28 years since her 2nd academy award – she’s the most nominated actor, ever, and I hope that sentiment for funny gal Sandra won’t carry the day. But it does happen periodically, no? Think Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich. Oh well. Wish I had a vote!



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