The true story of Baltimore Ravens rookie Michael Oher (played by newcomer Quinton Aaron) gets the big-screen treatment from writer/director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie), who at this stage appears to be the only filmmaker in Hollywood who understands that in real-life dramas about athletics sometimes there is no big game moment that changes lives forever.
The big hit, on either the baseball diamond or the football field, doesn’t make or break the fortunes of players, family members or the audience. I’m even loath to rely on the tired cliché that it’s about the game of life because life isn’t a game.
And if we need proof of that then we need to look no further than to the experiences of Oher, a gentle giant of a man-child seen in the earlier part of the film wandering the streets or collecting discarded popcorn bags in a school gymnasium in the hopes of making a meal for himself.
Oher’s a project kid with no one looking out for him until Leigh Anne Touhy (Sandra Bullock) and her family offer a helping hand. Hancock soft-pedals the whys of such assistance, teasing us with the notion that everyone wants to turn Oher into a game-changing offensive lineman, but it’s that light touch that lets us know Hancock believes there’s more to this story than a winning season or even a bright future on the field. He seeks to remove our cynical blinders, and by the time the credits roll we aren’t in a state of complete diabetic shock. Grade: B