I loved it. Read the book back in December and wanted to get to the movie for a while, but couldn't get out to the theater. Rented it last night and thought it was awesome. It's such a moving story of Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy's adoption of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). The story of the Tuohy family–including young son S.J. (Jae Head) and teenage sister Collins (Lily Collins) and Michael–brings tears to your eyes throughout the movie. The Tuohys as you may know (and this is a true story based on the book by Michael Lewis) take Michael in and protect him from the streets. He was basically homeless with a mother who is a crack addict. Leigh Anne has so much passion and heart and she is a driven to take care of Michael and give him a good life, an opportunity. It's a success story. Michael doesn't have a high IQ, but under the guidance of Leigh Anne and the family, starts succeeding in school and then, ultimately, on the football field.
He starts out as a teddy bear on the field at Wingate Christian in Memphis where he is the only African-American in the student body. Coach Burt Cotton (Ray McKinnon) is frustrated with him at practice and says to an assistant during drills he's built like Tarzan but plays like Jane. Cotton is all over him. Leigh Anne, who is watching practice with S.J from the bleachers., comes over and tells Cotton she wants to talk with Michael. She tells Michael that he needs to protect his quarterback like he's her. He needs to protect the running back like he's S.J. "Protect this family," she says as she walks away. Michael says, "What about Sean and Collins." She tells him to protect them, too. Michael gets the message and takes off. He starts burying defenders.
In his first game he is being harassed both mentally and physically by a white linebacker. He gets hit after a play by the lb and Cotton goes ballistic. The ref throws a flag on Cotton when there was no doubt the player gave Michael a cheap shot. Michael loves that his coach is protecting him, and proceeds to block the linebacker all the way through the end zone and over the foam barrier almost into the parking lot. The ref throws a flag and Cotton questions him for it. The ref calls it "excessive blocking." Cotton asks Michael why he didn't stop. Michael tells him it was time for that player to get on the bus and go home. Cotton loves it. Michael destroys the guy the rest of the game and knocks him out.
His recruiting takes off. S is there from LSU (remember this is 2005). Lou Holtz when he was at South Carolina, Phil Fulmer from UT and Houston Nutt from Arkansas all come by. Leigh Anne and Sean are both huge Ole Miss alums; Sean was a basketball player and Leigh Anne a cheerleader. Ed Orgeron comes to the house and tries to sell Michael after Leigh Anne told him to go after him. S.J. is cutting deals with all the coaches. S gives him a chance to come out in front of the team with him in the opening game. It's humorous as Fulmer, Holtz and Nutt offer things to S.J. Orgeron, who was a great recruiter at Ole Miss, tells S.J. he can walk the Grove with the team before the game and have a sideline pass. Meanwhile, Michael is working to get his grades up to a 2.5 so he can play college football at Division One. It's hard for him but he works with a great tutor (Kathy Bates), also an Ole Miss alumnus, who steers him towards the Rebels. He makes the grades and graduates. He's proud; the whole family is proud.
Michael likes Tenn. but chooses Ole Miss. There is an NCAA investigation. The investigator says that Michael was swayed to go to Ole Miss by his family and his tutor. He gets frustrated when the NCAA investigator tells him the Tuohys took him in to only go to Ole Miss. He runs away and goes back to the place where his roots are and where he thinks his mother is. The gang leader gets him in his house and says some lewd things about having sex with Collins. The whole group is laughing and Michael gets angry. He knocks them all out and runs away.
Leigh Anne finds him the next day and tells him he can do whatever he wants and go wherever he wants. She says he can be a dishwasher if he wants. Michael is happy with his mother's response. Michael ends up sticking with Ole Miss.
When they get to campus, Leigh Anne is giving Michael a list of things to do. Some nice looking co-eds walk by and Michael gets a big smile on his face. S.J. and Sean do, too. Leigh Anne tells Michael if he gets anybody pregnant she'll do something to him that he will regret. He gets the message. When they leave Leigh Anne gives Michael a quick hug and walks to the car. Michael talks to Sean and Sean says, you've got to peal her away like an onion. Leigh Anne is tough and it's hard for her to show her emotions, but she is very upset that Michael is going to college. Michael goes to the car and tells her he wants a big embrace. They hug tightly. It's very moving.
Michael goes on to become an All-American and is the 23rd draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens. He now plays for the Ravens at the coveted position of left tackle. Left tackle became paramount to coaches when Lawrence Taylor broke Joe Theisman's leg in a game in the early 80's. Taylor changed the way coaches approached the game. The left tackle was invaluable. Michael has become a wealthy young man; a success story. It shows what good parenting will do. At the end there are scenes with the family and Michael at Ole Miss as an All-American player and at the draft getting drafted by the Ravens.
It's not as detailed as the book; there was a lot more that happened that can't be totally covered in a two-hour movie. There is more about the gangs in the book and more detail about pro football. The end of the book has Dwight Freeney saying, "You tell Michael Oher I'll be waiting for him," which was pretty powerful. But the movie is terrific and Bullock is phenomenal. It's moving and inspirational. Bullock won the academy award for best actress. She deserved it. I thought the others, particularly S.J., were excellent, too. If you haven't seen it yet, you got to.