The Blind Side posterEvery time a new sports movie comes out, I always see the title and stand for a moment completely baffled at how someone could have come up with yet another story about an underdog being successful in football or basketball or hockey or whatever the case may be. But then, of course, I always find myself in the theater loving every minute of it. A successful sports movie is one of the cinema's rarest breeds, hence the pleasant surprise when you get a good one. The Blind Side is not a great sports film, but it is a good one. Like all good sports movies, it shamelessly manipulates your emotions and parades across the screen an endless stream of scenes painstakingly manufactured to highlight the charming properties of our hero's personality, while at the same time clearly illustrating how the movie will end. But the mark of a good sports movie is that you enjoy yourself while you're being manipulated, and I certainly did.But it's to be expected that the movie would manipulate your emotions, and not just because it's a sports movie. It's the true story of Michael Oher, who was a first round NFL draft pick in 2009, and who's background we see in the film. But Michael's story is that he comes from such a damaged background that his expectations of life are so low that all he wants to do is stay warm and be left alone. He has no real world ambition, and so the entire weight of the narrative falls squarely on his ability to make us feel sympathy for him. We don't root for him to become a major NFL superstar, because he really has little to no interest in that himself, we just want to see him emerge from a dysfunctional past and achieve some semblance of a normal life.[caption id="attachment_65687" align="alignleft" width="234" caption="Portrait of an American Family."]Portrait of an American Family.[/caption]Thankfully, Quinton Aaron, who plays Michael, has the charm and ability to fit into the character and generate enough interest in him as a person to drive the story, and Sandra Bullock perfectly inhabits the character of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a proper, well-to-do southern woman, the last person in the world you would expect to take a homeless African American teenager into her home. We can clearly see hers and her family's transformation from a stereotypical, upper middle class American family to something more interested in really doing something good for someone. Too often Americans become completely consumed by their efforts to make their own way in the world that, especially in a time of global financial crisis, we forget about how fortunate we are and how unfortunate so many other people are.I will say that the movie spends a little too much of its prodigious running time developing itself as a social drama to really maintain the interest of the sports fans, although there are plenty of cameos of recognizable college football coaches to keep them going, and once the football scenes come in they are well made and highly entertaining, and yet still find time to throw in plenty of comic relief and playful jabs at racist, game-day caricatures. And besides that, I also enjoyed that the movie took time to focus on the tilted regulations of admission standards of our educational institutions, which focus on certain characteristics while completely ignoring others, leading to something of the same situation that we are suffering from in the health care industry.[caption id="attachment_65688" align="alignright" width="418" caption="S.J. and Michael fitting right in."]S.J. and Michael fitting right in.[/caption]Overall, The Blind Side is not a great sports movie and I don't see a lot of awards in its future, but it presents itself as a feel-good movie and in that sense it's definitely a success. Tim McGraw is great as Leigh Anne's husband, a successful fast-food businessman and Kathy Bates is excellent as usual, but it's 10-year-old Jae Head - who plays their son S.J. - who really steals the show. There's a scene where he's on the football field with Michael, who must be a good five times his size, viciously berating him like an angry coach, and the whole scene is classic. The whole movie isn't a classic, but it's definitely a good, inspiring time. I recommend it.The Bean MeterThe Man.The Blind Side