Review in a Hurry: The Blind Side doesn't pretend to be anything but a heartstrings-tugging "feel good" movie. Swelling music, tearful epiphanies, all that sentimental crap is here in spades. But something funny happens at the end of the movie: You feel good.
The Bigger Picture: True stories tell themselves, and since life is stranger than fiction, sometimes they're hard to believe. The Blind Side is no different. Wealthy Memphis couple Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy (Sandra Bullock and country singer Tim McGraw) take in a homeless black teenager, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), who has the potential for athletic glory. Basically, the kid won the lottery, and fully deserved it, too.
Since the real-life story is inherently full of warm fuzzies, The Blind Side could be too much for jaded audiences. They should give it a shot. Writer and director John Lee Hancock stuffs the movie with robust humor, so the script never drowns in its own sentiment. His direction is crisp and efficient, and the story has a nice balance of sporting achievement and familial love. Even coming in with a skeptical frame of mind, it's impossible not to laugh at the snappy dialogue or root for Michael and his new family. It's the kind of movie that demands you get swept away with its charm, and it's a welcome and therapeutic addition to this year's slate of holiday movies.
Another key reason the movie works so well is that its main character is so incredibly likable. Leigh Anne Tuohy is a fixer, a real spitfire who never takes no for an answer. Bullock portrays this Southern belle as a gal who kicks ass and takes names without so much as losing a false eyelash, yet has an incredible capacity to love.
To see Bullock embody her with a perfect balance of silk and steel is a treat. She's developed so much as an actress since her Speed days, and this is her best work to date.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Complicated issues about race and socioeconomics come up—a white couple "rescues" a black kid from his tough neighborhood and drug-addicted mother, never to look back—that could have been addressed with greater candor and compassion.
Also out this week: The Twilight Saga: New Moon.