‘The Blind Side’ full of positive messages

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 27, 2009

I don’t watch a lot of movies, but I have always been fond of those that combine sports with the big screen. I count Rudy, Miracle and Hoosiers as among my favorite films of all time, and now I have a new one to add to that list — The Blind Side.

Last weekend, while visiting with family in Missouri, I decided to see the film with my parents. Based on a true story and a book of the same name, The Blind Side tells the story of Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher, a black man who had a difficult childhood until he met the white Tuohy family of Memphis, who first showed Christian charity to the young man before ultimately deciding to adopt him into their own family.

Oher’s single mother, Denise, was addicted to crack, and Oher never had a stable living environment until he moved in with the Tuohy family. The movie follows Oher’s story, as he evolves from a quiet, unassuming (but quite large) teenager into college football’s top offensive tackle.

The most impressive thing about The Blind Side is that the football scenes are really only secondary to the rest of the film. I found myself far more engrossed in watching scenes such as when the feisty Leigh Anne Tuohy takes Michael shopping in a dangerous part of Memphis, but he comforts her by saying, “I’ve got your back.”

It is a movie with a Christian message, which is something that is few and far between in Hollywood these days. Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family are living examples of Jesus’ commandments to help others. But Oher also offers a wonderful message, that we cannot simply discount someone because of his economic class or a perceived “lack of intelligence.” In the movie, teachers believe Oher is stupid, but they later find out that he does much better at oral examinations than written tests. A literature teacher who believes Oher will never make the grades to play Division I football is astonished to read the young man’s essay about “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” It is a scene reminiscent of when the Grinch’s heart “grew three times larger” at the end of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Even Oher’s mother, who one would assume to be unlikable, is presented as someone who genuinely cares but has allowed drugs to take over her life. It is hard to not be touched when Leigh Anne asks if Denise wants to see Michael again and his mother replies, “No, he can’t see me like this,” because she is ashamed to let her now-successful son see her.

There are two things that I look for in a movie if I decide to see it. First, will I be entertained? And second, will it make me think?

I’m happy to say The Blind Side does both.