PLOT: The true story of a Southern white couple whose adopted black son becomes a football star.
BOTTOM LINE: Your standard-issue inspirational film, with no surprises.
CAST: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron
The story of an overweight, impoverished, illeducated African-American teenager, "The Blind Side" has the misfortune of opening shortly after "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," a film with essentially the same premise.
This newer movie has the weight of truth - it's based on a book by journalist Michael Lewis - but the fictional "Precious" had a deeper authenticity. It forced viewers to reconsider, and empathize with, a stereotype. "The Blind Side," about a wealthy white couple that adopts a black son, ends up reinforcing one.
Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, well-scrubbed members of their Memphis community, are played by Sandra Bullock (reasonably convincing) and country musician Tim McGraw (inexplicably bland). Their children attend a good Christian school, which is where they meet "Big" Mike Oher (Quinton Aaron), a charity case who is homeless, parentless and affectless. Leigh Anne takes him in for a night, then decides to keep him.
It turns out Big Mike has football skills - he plays left tackle, guarding the quarterback's blind side - but if he wants a college scholarship, he must raise that GPA. Enter Kathy Bates as a tough-love tutor. That this movie is mostly factual doesn't make it any more convincing.
The Tuohys clearly care for Mike, but writer-director John Lee Hancock can't make us see why. The real Mike now plays for the Baltimore Ravens, but here he remains a cipher, an idea rather than a person. He was rescued from the projects and plopped into a McMansion, and that's all there is to know.
In one scene, Leigh Anne's socialite friends needle her about white guilt. The accusation is hugely unfair to Leigh Anne, but the movie might want to look in the mirror.