Thoughts on Balls
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    This film is based on the true story of Michael Oher, a football player for the Baltimore Ravens.  Oher is a homeless teenager in Memphis, whose father recently died and whose mother is a druggie with multiple children taken away from her by the state.  Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw play a caring rich couple, who take Oher into their home and treat him like one of their own.  The drama is inspring, touching and funny. It shows the worst of human nature and the best of it at the same time. Oher comes from nothing and eventually attains immense fame and fortune because he was given a break by a couple people along the way (a school teacher who gets him into a private Christian school gives him the greatest chance. If not for him, Bullock's character would have never even met Oher).

    There are only a few knocks on this film, but they are important enough to me for the film not to earn a few more points and get a perfect 10 rating. First and foremost is Oher's real life criticism of the film. The one thing he didn't like about the movie, is that it depicts him as clueless when it comes to football. In the movie, he doesn't know a thing about the sport and is essentially taught everything he knows by his white coach and adoptive mother. I would have found this hard to believe, even if Oher hadn't publicly disputed it. The chances of an 18 year old black kid from the USA not knowing the basics of football is simply ridiculous. Down in the South, football is a religion to most people, taking a very close second place to God himself. However, the scenes in which Oher is taught how to play, provides some of the most humorous parts of the movie. I'd bet this part of the story was done on purpose for the comic relief it provides.

    I remember taking a few career aptitude tests back when I was in high school, just as Oher did in this film. He scored a 98% on "protective instincts," which is used to explain his great ability to protect the quarterback from his position at left tackle. I could very well be wrong, but I fail to see how or why "protective instincts" would ever be a result in such a test. Characteristics like: problem solving, multi-tasking, artistic ability, cooperation/teamwork and self-management seem like applicable characteristics for such a test. The film uses the "protective instincts" avenue in several points of the film, such as when Oher protects his little brother during a car accident, a tense standoff with gang members and of course, his football abilities. To me, the film went outside the lines to make the film fit the script, which takes away from the film's overall message as a true story.

    The social commentary is huge in this film, obviously highlighted by the premise of the story itself: poor people living in the projects getting help from the rich. Socio/economic references are prevalent througout the film, which has led to many people criticizing the movie. It's just "another tale of white folk helping out the poor black man." I don't think we can really be so fickel here though, since it is based on a true story. If a white couple actually helped the poor black kid from the projects, who are we to criticize that? One thing that did annoy me in terms of the rich/poor dichotomy was when Bullock goes to the projects by herself. She drives up in her BMW, brazenly walks up to several gang members and asks if they have seen Michael. An argument of sorts ensues, which ends up with Bullock threatening them with a gun and saying "You hear me ****?" This is just another example of the heartwarming true story becoming ridiculous. Thanks to movies and CNN, I can only assume that a rich white woman driving into the projects by herself in a BMW and approaching gang members cannot end up well. It certainly wouldn't end with the white woman embarassing the gang members and walking away unscathed.

    Overall, the message delivered by The Blind Side is powerful and touching. I only wish they hadn't deviated outside the lines where they did, because I would have taken the movie much more seriously if they didn't try to make it a Hollywood story instead.

 

Check out my website for a counter review to this film, interactive forums, trailers and more.  It's only 2 weeks old, so looking to get a viewer base started!

www.popcornandbeer.com

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