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Film review: ‘The Blind Side’ is cinematic ‘comfort food’

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Jae Head, left, Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock in a scene from "The Blind Side."

Jae Head, left, Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock in a scene from “The Blind Side.”

Ralph Nelson, Warner Brothers

THE BLIND SIDE — ★★★ — Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw; rated PG-13 (violence, slurs, vulgarity, brief drugs, profanity, brief gore, brief sex); in general release

After this summer's wretched "All About Steve," Sandra Bullock really needed "The Blind Side."

After the almost-as-horrid, 2004 would-be epic "Alamo," screenwriter/director John Lee Hancock definitely needed "The Blind Side."

And after all the dire and disappointing movies so far this fall, audiences probably needed "The Blind Side" as well.

And yes, this feel-good sports/biographical drama is predictable and by-the-numbers. Yet for the most part, this cinematic "comfort food" goes down pretty well.

Also, a good and largely fresh-faced cast certainly makes this material better than it would be otherwise.

"The Blind Side" is based on the true story of Michael "Big Mike" Oher, a Tennessee teen who went from being homeless to becoming a college football star.

In this version of events (which are drawn from the Michael Lewis book), Michael (Quinton Aaron) is found wandering the streets and is taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) and her family.

At first, this is supposed to be a temporary arrangement. But when it becomes apparent that Mike has nowhere else to go, the Tuohys make that arrangement more permanent.

They also help him turn his failing school career around. With coaxing from Leigh Anne, Michael also begins playing high school football, where the hulking but nimble teen turns out to be a natural.

NCAA football fans, as well as NFL followers, will already know how this story turns out. And besides, this sort of story has to have a certain kind of ending.

In any case, the really rewarding aspects come from the character moments and the performances. That includes the believable give-and-take between the bleached-blonde Bullock and relative newcomer Aaron.

The actors playing the other Tuohys are also quite good. Tim McGraw is solid as Leigh Anne's supportive husband, while Jae Head steals scenes as their son.

Some occasional humor is a smart addition as well. (Kathy Bates adds to this in a brief supporting role as a private tutor the Tuohys hire to help Mike boost his GPA.)

"The Blind Side" is rated PG-13 and features some strong violent content and imagery (athletics-related violence, gunplay, some brawling and vehicular mayhem), derogatory language and slurs (some of them based on race), use of crude slang terms and other suggestive talk, brief drug references and content (methamphetamines, narcotics and marijuana), scattered profanity, some brief bloody imagery, and a brief sex scene (implied). Running time: 126 minutes.

e-mail: jeff@desnews.com