Why Audiences Are Cheering The Blind Side

December 8th, 2009

LA Personalities Examiner, Jorge Carreon

Read full article here: http://wwww.examiner.com/x-1486-LA-Personalities-Examiner~y2009m11d29-Examiner-Exclusive-Bullock-McGraw-and-the-Tuohys-on-why-audiences-are-cheering-The-Blind-Side

With so much ink, programming and internet chatter dedicated to the allure of vampires in an overheated, fang-crossed romance, perhaps it is time to address what audiences really wanted to see this season: a film about hope and overcoming adversity. That is what makes “The Blind Side” such a welcome phenomenon.

This shrewd piece of counter-programming has paid off handsomely for Warner Bros. which opted to release a true, underdog tale as an alternative to the youthquake known as “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” Industry pundits originally predicted the vampires would suck the blood out of its competitor, tapping the film to debut between $15 – 20 million. Instead, “The Blind Side” bowed to more than $34 million, going on to outperform “New Moon” as the most watched film on Thanksgiving Day. Even more, the film actually did 18% better in its second weekend, crossing the $100 million mark in the process. This bodes extremely well for top-billed Sandra Bullock, who caps a wildly successful year by delivering what could be the highest grossing film of her career. But, exactly why are audiences cheering on “The Blind Side?”

CinemaScore exit polls had audiences rate the film with an “A+” during its opening weekend and the word of mouth has proven strong enough to propel the film to nearly surpass “New Moon” as the weekend's number one film. With most Americans trying to survive the effects of a weak economy, if they're going to spend their hard-earned dollars on a leisure activity, why not be inspired by someone else's true tale of woe?

Before he became a Baltimore Raven and an All-American football star for the University of Mississippi Ole Miss Rebels, Michael Oher was virtually homeless, alone and fending for himself. The epitome of the blond, indomitable Southern woman, Leigh Anne Tuohy saw him on the streets of Memphis. Upon learning that he was a classmate of her daughter, Tuohy opened her home to Oher for the night. Yet, that act of charity didn't end there. Leigh Anne and her husband Sean ended up taking in Oher, who became an integral part of their family, setting in motion a series of events that changed all of their lives for the better.

Based on the best-selling account, “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis, the film version plays into the themes of the sports film genre. What elevates the film are Bullock and country music star Tim McGraw, whose combined natural warmth makes the Tuohys come across as real people and not stars playing normal folk. And then there is newcomer Quinton Aaron's fearless performance in his first starring role.

All combined, this is heartland America stuff. And while the film wears its heart on its sleeve, so what? With a media cycle caught in the throes of cynicism, opportunism and scandal, “The Blind Side” is a welcome and much-needed remedy. Here's what Bullock, McGraw, Aaron and their real-life counterparts, Leigh Anne & Sean Tuohy and Michael Oher have to say about why audiences are backing “The Blind Side.”

SANDRA BULLOCK: The beauty of the story is that you think it’s one thing and it turns out to be something else, and those are usually the best things in life. I thought the script was going to be about football until I read it and realized that it’s really about family. It was not that one-sided. They certainly did a good deed in taking in this young man in such a loving and generous way. But, in turn, he brought out a side of their family that they didn’t even realize was missing. The family seemed to have all the success and joy in the world, but when Michael showed up, it was as if he was the final piece to the puzzle.

LEIGH ANNE TUOHY: I think Michael (Oher) had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his. You take so much in life for granted, but when Michael moved in with us, he made us realize how blessed we are. We viewed life differently after he joined our family.

SEAN TUOHY: When Michael Lewis first called, he was going to write a nice, little article. We still haven’t quite figured out how, somewhere along the way in this whole thing, it went from a nice little article to a book and now a movie.

BULLOCK: The Tuohys opened up their home and their lives, so we felt a great deal of responsibility to do right by their family, and that’s a lot to live up to. You want people to be entertained, but you also want them to leave the theatre with a genuine understanding of who these people are.

TIM McGRAW: The inspirational story of what Sean Tuohy and his family did for this kid—the time, the effort and the love he put out—is pretty incredible. Also, a positive movie about sports is something I really enjoy seeing because sports, if played the right way and coached the right way, can really teach you a lot about yourself and about life in general.

QUINTON AARON: “When I read the story, I saw that we had a lot in common. Neither of us knew our fathers growing up. I was the biggest kid in my school; he was the biggest kid in his school. I kept to myself a lot and was more of a quiet, shy kid, and that’s pretty much what he was like. I also played some football at one point, but I wasn’t good at it.

S. TUOHY: Michael was once completely devalued in the world. Imagine what kind of value we put on kids like him who don’t happen to be athletic. Imagine who gets passed by and that’s a shame. I think this story says we need to do more to help kids, all of whom have value.

MICHAEL OHER: I know there are people who have a lot more talent than I do, but they never made it out. So if people hear my story they will know that if you give somebody a chance, there is hope for that person.

L. A. TUOHY: I am telling you there are Michael Ohers everywhere—wonderful kids who need a home, who want a family. It doesn’t take much searching out because they are right under your nose. And they don’t need to be brilliant at football. They don’t need to be someone who excels at anything other than loving you and wanting love in return.

“The Blind Side” is now playing nationwide. Click on Fandango for ticket and theater information.