Title: The Blind Side
Synopsis: Michael Oher, a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then Leigh Anne Tuohy and her husband, Sean, take him in. The Tuohys eventually become Michael’s legal guardians, transforming both his life and theirs. Michael’s tremendous size and protective instincts make him a formidable force on the gridiron, and with help from his new family and devoted tutor, he realizes his potential as a student and football player.
I haven’t read Great Expectations, but I’m going to take a page from Miss Sue’s handbook and use the little I know about the book as my analogy for this part of my tale. Although not technically an orphan, Michael is basically a boy without a home and is in search of the love only a family can provide. It is true Michael finds this with the Tuohys, but the movie does a sloppy job of bringing the two parties together.
The truth is Sean Tuohy’s love of sports, basketball in particular, brings Michael Oher into the Tuohy’s world. It is true Michael had the closest relationship with Leigh Anne, but she did not have these superpowers that gave Michael the ability to play football. She definitely wasn’t rolling into the hood solo and going toe-to-toe with its notorious drug lord. Basically, we have a movie that takes the least interesting parts of the book and turns them into mincemeat Michael Oher’s story into another White Savior Narrative.
Wrong Side of the Tracks
I often have terrible reactions to adaptations because they often get so much of the story wrong. The Blind Side adaptation is special because every note I wrote was negative:
- Michael wasn’t inept when it came to sports. Every coach wanted him on their team. The basketball coach wanted him. The track and field coach wanted him. Obviously, the football coach wanted him. He was a visual learner. He could watch someone do an action and repeat it at nearly the same level. Why is this movie making the concept of football a foreign language to Michael?
- Leigh Anne Tuohy was not a football savant. She was not the savior who let Coach Cotton (Freeze in the book) know Michael was meant to play left tackle. Thanks to all the hype from college coaches and some serious mind tricks from his assistant coaches, Michael learned that on his own. Although the left tackle wasn’t that important in high school, it’s essential in college and the NFL. Michael Oher was going to take Coach Cotton-Freeze to the top. The movie did show the coach’s conniving nature. Coach Cotton-Freeze truly was “The Snake.” He had no problems using this gift from heaven in Michael to upgrade himself into a more prestigious career.
- I hated the role of Sean Tuohy as basically the “go along to get along” husband. He is a former basketball star for Ole Miss and plays the role of informal assistant coach for the basketball and football teams. He is also one of Michael’s confidants when Michael gets into trouble. The movie gives the impression that only Leigh Anne, with the assistance of SJ, brought Michael out of his shell.
I saw The Blind Side in the theaters when it was first released. As a Baltimore resident at the time, it was nice to see a story about a player on the home team. I didn’t love the movie, but I wasn’t annoyed by it. Now, after reading The Blind Side, watching this movie pisses me off! I have tired of stories with the white savior trope. This book would have been better served as an ESPN 30 for 30. Rating: Burnt Popcorn