The multilayered description of Michael Oher's journey from a life of poverty to that of a professional athlete is quality cinema. Written by Michael Lewis and adapted for the screen by John Lee Hancock, this true story exemplifies how lives can be transformed by love when people put their Christian faith into action.
Oher (Quinton Aaron) was one of twelve children born to a drug addicted mother, Denise (Adriane Lenox). When the state took him away from her as a young boy, Oher ran from various foster homes. Befriended by other students and their parents, Oher was charitably enrolled in a Christian high school even though he did not have the grades or academic aptitude to succeed. It is there that he comes into contact with a wonderful Christian family who took a risk and put their faith into action.
First befriended at school by the much younger S.J. Tuohy (Jae Head) who becomes his mentor, Oher is then noticed by S.J.'s mother, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock). Realizing that he is in need of housing and care, Leigh Anne invites Oher into their home and eventually into their family. Supported by her husband Sean (Tim McGraw) and her daughter Collins (Lily Collins), Leigh Anne respectfully, and with unwavering courage and determination, helps Oher succeed in his final years of high school and also helps him become an exceptional ball player.
Although this is the biography of a professional football player, it is not really about football. It is about caring enough to become involved in one another's lives. The film states this directly at the conclusion when it shows pictures of young men whose lives were cut short due to their lack of supportive guidance in both their education and their athletic lives. Thankfully, the Tuohy family reached out to Oher. But, as the film powerfully portrays, this is not easy to do and it takes a tremendous amount of courage on everyone's part.
That we can often be blindsided by the difficulties of life is the reason we need each other. This central message is woven powerfully throughout this remarkable film. We highly recommend it to all.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. The decision by the Tuohy family to invite Michael Oher into their home took a tremendous level of trust and courage. In this situation it worked. What do you think were the necessary ingredients for this to work?
2. The protective nature of Oher's personality was channeled into his skill as a ball player. Where do you think he developed this nature?
3. As a Christian family, the Tuohy's would have undoubtedly gone to worship together. Why do you think the film left that out?
Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of the Free Methodist Church. For more reviews: www.cinemainfocus.com.