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Inspirational 2006 book (and 2009 film adaptation) of American football player Michael Oher's life.
Michael Oher was born in the housing projects of Hurt Village to a crack mom and a father who left a week after he was born. By the time he's of high school age, he's homeless. He is on the verge of failing out of high school, and dismissed by teachers and shunned by other students as a Big Scary Black Man, despite actually being a Gentle Giant.
Fortunately, the religious, wealthy Tuohys, consisting of mother Leigh Anne, father Sean, teenage girl Collins, and little boy SJ, recognize Michael's plight and open their home to him, eventually adopting him.
With the help of the Tuohys, Michael becomes a star football player, leading the Miracle Rally against the cheating and unnecessarily rough Opposing Sports Team. Colleges come knocking on the door with athletic scholarship offers.
However, an NCAA investigation raises doubts in Michael that the Tuohys have his best interest at heart. Only after Michael confronts his Dark and Troubled Past can he finally learn to truly trust his new family. The film ends with footage of the real Michael being drafted into the NFL.
Tropes found in this film include:
- Academy Award: Sandra Bullock is now an Oscar winner thanks to this.
- Accidental Athlete: Michael excels as a linesman only when he learns to tap his "protective instinct." After Leigh Anne Tuohy discovers his 98th percentile score on the 'protective instincts' category of an aptitude test, she helps him exploit his custodial nature on the gridiron. He imagines his team as his family.
- Abusive Parents: Michael's biological mother Denise neglected him because of her cocaine addiction.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Averted, it is a point of comparison since the film ends with still images of the real people who the story is based on. Each actor has a reasonable resemblence to the person they portray.
- Based on a True Story
- Berserk Button: Usually, Michael is the Gentle Giant. But when an armed drug dealer makes sexual comments about Leigh Anne and Collins, an unarmed Michael hulks out and lays out the smackdown.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The coach has to find some way to make Michael aggressive enough to perform his position as left tackle. Even once he manages to become a brick wall, he still tries to inflict as little pain on the field as he can. Let's just say it is not a pretty sight to see Michael actually get angry.
- Big Brother Instinct: With only a split second to act, Michael instinctively saved SJ from being seriously injured or killed during their car accident.
- Big Fancy House: The Tuohys'.
- Big Guy, Little Guy / Fat and Skinny: Michael and SJ, respectively.
- Black Best Friend: Michael, for SJ.
- Book Dumb: Michael is portrayed at failing in school not because he is stupid but rather because of the testing methodology. He is actually highly competent and intelligent, but struggles with written tests and the traditional teaching format.
- California Doubling: The movie was filmed in Atlanta.
- Character Exaggeration: Apparently the actual problems Michael Oher was helped through simply weren't enough for Hollywood. The movies portrayal of Michael needing to learn American Football was pretty much Blatant Lies. Oher himself was notably upset over this particular piece of "artistic license". As for needing to toughen up, shockingly that was also untrue. In fact the very notion of putting aggression into someone is dismissed by Oher.
Michael Oher: "I’ve always had that fire and passion in me on the field. You can’t put aggression into a person. It’s impossible. Either you have that toughness and aggression or you don't."
- Michael's size was exaggerated as well, the actor is actually four inches taller than the real Michael.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: A defensive lineman on the Opposing Sports Team deliberately kicks Michael when he's down and after the play has already ended, and the racist referee not only ignores the kick, but penalizes the Wingate Crusaders when Coach Cotton complains. This triggers Coach Cotton's Papa Wolf moment, which motivates Michael to lead the Miracle Rally.
- Credits Photo Montage Epilogue: Of the real-life Tuohys and Michael. Collins joins Michael at Ole Miss and becomes a cheerleader like her mom; Michael is the first-round NFL draft pick. Other photos show Michael playing basketball and the only known photo of him as a child.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Michael.
- The Danza: A strange version because Collins is played by an actress whose last name is Collins
- Deep South: There are several racist rednecks in the film. On the other hand, the Tuohys are representative of Sweet Home Alabama.
- Disappeared Dad: Michael.
- Eating Lunch Alone: Except it's not lunch, but study hall: Michael always sits alone, until Collins leaves her study table to sit with him instead.
- Fish Out of Water: Michael, when he first arrives at his new private religious school, and when the Tuohys first invite him into their home.
- Flashback Nightmare: Michael occasionally has the awake version of these, when thinking about his Dark and Troubled Past.
- Foil: Big, shy Michael and tiny attention magnate SJ; aggressive Leigh Anne and laid-back Sean; the fortunate Michael and way too many doomed inner-city kids.
- Gentle Giant: Michael.
- GIS: Leigh Anne uses Google to find a picture of a young boy that looks enough like Michael.
- Groin Attack: Leigh Anne: "If you impregnate a girl out of wedlock I will personally crawl into my car, come up here, and cut off your penis."
- Happily Married: Leigh Anne and Sean
- Hard Work Montage: Miss Sue tutoring Michael in academics. (This film also has a Training Montage, as described above.)
- Heartwarming Orphan: Michael, Michael, Michael. A very...humongous example and a bit older than others, but capable of making the hardest heart to melt with his attitude...
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Miss Sue also has a son that loves foozball.
- We also see what T-Dog was doing before heading for Atlanta.
- Holding Hands: The Tuohy children offer their hands to Michael when saying Grace at Thanksgiving dinner.
- Hot Mom: Come on, Sandra Bullock is not too shabby as a blonde. The film lampshades this trope.
- Huddle Shot: Right before Michael begins leading the Wingate Crusaders' Miracle Rally against the Lions.
- In-Series Nickname: "Big Mike".
- Instant Expert: Mike hadn't played league football before that season. He falls under the natural athlete category.
- Mike also took part in a few other sports during school, but couldn't make it to practices because of the time he spent either practicing football or studying. Didn't stop him from excelling at most of these sports, either.
- It's All My Fault: Michael feels this way after he is involved in a car accident which injures SJ. It was partially his fault for not paying enough attention while driving and letting SJ ride in the front seat, but on the other hand, Michael also saves SJ from suffering more serious injuries or being killed during the accident.
- Jerkass: The guy in the first game, who keeps taunting him. Guess what happens to him...
- Knight Templar Big Brother: Michael is usually a Gentle Giant, but a drug dealer hits Michael's Berserk Button by making sexual comments about Collins, and Michael flies into an Unstoppable Rage.
- Kuudere / Tsundere: Leigh Anne. When Michael goes to Ole Miss she warns him that "if he gets a girl pregnant [she'll] hunt him down and cut off his penis", then hides in the car so no one will see her crying.
- Lighter and Fluffier: The actor who plays Michael has a considerably gentler face then the real-life Michael.
- Magical Negro: "Honey, you're changing that boy's life!" Leigh Anne's friend tells her about Michael. Leigh Anne's response: "No. He's changing mine."
- Your mileage may vary with this one. It's the poverty that Michael was born into that shocks Leigh Anne and makes her re-evaluate parts of her life. Though, Michael's race is a contributing factor to his impoverished background, so this could sort of fit. Though, of course, any race can be poor, so, yeah, your mileage may vary.
- Mama Bear: "You threaten my son, you threaten me. You so much as cross into downtown, you will be sorry. I'm in a prayer group with the D.A., I'm a member of the NRA, and I'm always packin'."
- Genius Bonus when the thug says "what is it, a Saturday night special" and Leigh Ann replays "and it works just fine every other day of the week" she means she packs a .44 Special...which is about double the power of the usual .38 saturday night special.
- Mighty Whitey: Thank goodness there was a rich, righteous white lady around to teach the ignorant black man how to play football.
- Miracle Rally: Michael leads one in the Crusaders-Lions game.
- Morality Pet: SJ for Michael.
- Once More, with Clarity: The opening interview is revisited again near the end of the film.
- One Head Taller: Oh, guess.
- Actually an Exaggerated Trope, Michael is actually closer to a full head and shoulders taller than everyone else.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Michael, at first anyway. After he reveals to Leigh Anne that he doesn't like to be called "Big Mike", she thereafter always calls him "Michael" instead.
- Sean Jr. is usually called SJ. The coach from the Touhy's hated Tennessee makes a good pitch until he calls him CJ.
- Opposing Sports Team: The visiting Lions; their defensive lineman deliberately kicks Michael when he's down and after the play has already ended.
- Oscar Bait: Became this, though the film's producers hadn't dared initially to think that high. Indeed, it was quite a surprise that the film became the hit it became.
- Papa Wolf: Coach Cotton has such a moment after the Opposing Sports Team deliberately kicks Michael when he's down and after the play has already ended, and the racist referee not only ignores the kick, but penalizes the Wingate Crusaders.
- Parental Abandonment: Michael's biological father.
- Pitbull Dates Puppy: Leigh Anne and Sean's relationship, a pretty healthy example of this, actually.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Michael's encounter with a drug dealer at a party in his old neighborhood is an approximation of an actual incident Michael had when at college where a black classmate harrassed him for "selling out" to a white family and made sexual remarks regarding Collins, and Michael went berserk. The fictionalized story ends as Michael goes to college, so the event was transcribed to a time before graduating from high school.
- The book the movie is adapted from is part Michael Oher biography and part grand study of the evolution of football, especially the left tackle position. No one much thinks of the latter when thinking of the book, and Oher's story is certainly substantially more interesting and filmable than a history lesson on offensive linemen.
- Rags to Riches: Michael: from the projects to the wealthy household of the Tuohys to a multi-million-dollar NFL contract.
- Rich Bitch: Leigh Anne's snobbish salad luncheon friends.
- Saintly Church: Christian charity is part of what motivates the Tuohys to help Michael.
- Scary Black Man: But despite his intimidating size, Michael is actually a Gentle Giant.
- Shout-Out: The Blind Side was released in theaters on the same week as New Moon, the sequel to Twilight. Collins is watching Twilight on television when Leigh Anne brings Michael to the Tuohy's home for the first time. (Which is actually an anachronism, because most of the key events of the original book take place between 2003 and 2005, considerably before Twilight became a phenomenon.)
- Shown Their Work: As many Mississippians can tell you, the filmmakers nailed their portrayal of life in the New South. They also nailed private school moms.
- Spoiled Sweet: Collins.
- Sweet Home Alabama: Well, it's actually Tennessee, but still. The film also has elements of Deep South.
- Title Drop: Implied a few times, but not expressly said. The title refers to the reduced field of vision over the (right-handed) QB's shoulder as they are preparing to throw, where they put the biggest, strongest and fastest guy they can as left tackle to protect his blind spot.
- Training Montage: SJ training Michael for football. (This film also has a Hard Work Montage, as described below.)
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Michael has this; Sean mentions halfway through the movie about how "Michael's gift is his ability to forget" his Dark and Troubled Past, and near the end, Michael explains how he would "close his eyes" when bad things happened.
- Unnecessary Roughness: The defensive lineman of the Lions deliberately kicks Michael when he's down and after the play has already ended, and the racist referee not only ignores the kick, but penalizes the Wingate Crusaders after Coach Cotton complains.
- Unstoppable Rage: Michael hulks out when a drug dealer makes sexual comments about Leigh Anne and Collins.
- Urban Segregation: Contrast the wealthy suburban community of the Tuohys and Wingate with the housing projects of Hurt Village.
- Villainy Free Villain: The NCAA investigator is only doing her job. And for that matter, she's kind of right about how the Tuohys manipulate Michael into going to Ole Miss.
- The Voiceless: Michael, due to his Dark and Troubled Past, when he first arrives at his new private religious school. He eventually opens up and starts talking after the Tuohys begin helping him.
- What Could Have Been: The producers were so intent on casting Julia Roberts as Leigh Anne Tuohy that if they couldn't get her they would either rewrite the film as a father-son story or scrap it altogether. Fortunately Sandra Bullock was up to the challenge.
- What Happened to the Mouse? : The blue collar mechanic convincing the coach to get Michael into the school, where Michael slept on his couch for a few months, isn't seen after a scene where he had to kick Michael out. This includes the man's son, who was close friends with Michael.
- Actually the mechanic is seen again briefly on Michael's graduation.
- Where Da White Women At?: A drug dealer makes sexual comments suggesting he thinks this way about Leigh Anne and Collins, setting off Michael's Berserk Button. Also, Leigh Anne's snobbish salad luncheon friends warn Leigh Anne of this.
- White Man's Burden: The Tuohys save Michael from a life of poverty and violence.
- It gets particularly Anvilicious when Michael joins the Tuohys for dinner for the first time, and gets confused when the family says grace.
- The NCAA inspector accuses the Tuohys and other wealthy alumni of this when she implies they picked him in order to "groom" him into an Ole Miss football player, which greatly disturbs Leigh Anne.
- The Woobie: Michael In-Universe, so much so that Tuohys take him in.
- Wrong Side of the Tracks: The housing projects of Hurt Village, where Michael is from.
Tropes found in the book include:
- Berserk Button: In the book, the disparaging words against Leigh Anne and Collins (which Michael refuses to ever repeat) were said by an Ole Miss teammate. After finding a shirt he wasn't afraid to get blood on, he chased the guy all over school and finally attacked him in a classroom filled with people — which unfortunately also contained the coach's three-year-old son (he's wasn't injured too much, but the coach had just lost his other son and was understandably upset. This is "referenced" in the movie where Michael's distracted driving nearly kills SJ and when he knocks over a crib with a baby in it at his mother's place).
- The Big Guy: Michael. Literally everyone who sees him can't help but comment on his size (when he and Sean are at a college football game, Sean notices that the players — all future NFL stars — are smaller then Michael), and then they see how fast he is. When Leigh Anne tries to find new clothes for him, she searches every Big & Tall store within driving distance, including ones in the worst part of Memphis (to Michael's horror). She eventually gave his sizes to an ex-NFL friend hoping he might have some spare clothes that would fit him, and he can't help either (naturally, he's dumbfounded by Michael's ridiculous measurements).
- Also Michael's friend, a coach nicknamed Big Tony. Michael hates being called "Big Mike", but when you're bigger at age 14 then a full-grown man named Big Tony what do you expect?
- Book Dumb: Michael, although he has an amazing memory. When he's classified as Learning Disabled it actually helps him get into college.
- Boring but Practical: The Left Tackle position. Left tackles are almost invisible during a football game, but they're so important that they're one of the highest-paid players on the field.
- Cool Car: Too cool: When Sean shows up at his first football practice, he immediately notices that he's the only one in a BMW ("I need to get a pickup truck").
- Dark and Troubled Past: Oh boy, Michael. He's so reluctant to reveal anything about himself and will say whatever it takes to make to conversation go away that Leigh Anne worries he might be gay. Speaking of which...
- Depraved Homosexual: While none actually show up, the story does mainly take place in a conservative Christian private school in The Deep South (a graduation speech warns against homosexuality). At Ole Miss the football team is freaked out by the sight of "an actual tranny!".
- Dissonant Serenity: Before attacking a classmate for making sexual remarks about his mother and sister, Michael goes to find a shirt he isn't afraid to get blood on.
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Big Mike" for Michael - he wanted to be a basketball player, and basketball players aren't supposed to be quite that big.
- Enfante Terrible: Sean Jr, in a good way: he uses his closeness to Michael to see what he can get from the various college coaches. He later points out that his, Michael, and Collins' futures are basically secure so they wouldn't need their inheritances, planting a seed in Leigh Anne to do more.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The book points out that one of the reasons Michael didn't fall into gang life or be injured in the horrible Hurt Village projects is that the Gangster Disciples that ran it made a point to keep kids out of the game.
- Genki Girl / Tsundere: Leigh Anne.
Sean: You have to understand, my wife's heart's the size of a pea. If you cross her, she'll stomp on your throat and take you out and she won't feel a thing.
- Gentle Giant: The Touhys resented the inference that their daughter was in danger from Michael.
- Hands-Off Parenting / Disappeared Dads / Parental Abandonment: Michael's mom, who's extremely neglectful (though not abusive, as far as what's shown of her) to all thirteen of her children (their dads are not in the picture). As the author put it (and I can't quite remember how), "it's as if she was an experiment to see how absent a parent could be yet still retain the love of her children."
- Lightning Bruiser: Michael's love of basketball helped him gain amazing speed despite his large size.
- Limited Wardrobe: Michael, at first, with a grand total of one shirt. To Leigh Anne's confusion and annoyance, he's extremely picky about his clothes, especially his shoes, mainly due to the fact he does not want to be seen as The Big Guy.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Michael's family: thirteen siblings by several different fathers, along with his siblings' kids.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After Michael attacks his teammate and fears he may have injured his coach's kid, not to mention destroying his football career. It takes Sean and the other coach to coax him out of hiding.
- Picture Day: Michael is positively mystified when someone, possibly his bio-mom, finds a photo of him as a child; given Michael's very poor upbringing the fact that it even exists is a miracle.
- The Cameo: Several SEC coaches played themselves in various, mostly minor parts of the film. Tommy Tubberville at Auburn, Nick Saban at LSU, Lou Holtz at South Carolina, Houston Nutt at Arkansas, Phil Fulmer at Tennessee, and Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss. Of course, the Ole Miss coach does have a slightly larger role than the others. And everyone in the list has moved on to another job at this point.
- The Quiet One / The Stoic / The Voiceless: Michael, at first. His past is eventually revealed (to the author: "Are you the guy who keeps calling about me?")
- Presumably, the past couple years were probably excruciating ones for an intensely private person like Michael, but it also led him to write his own book about his experiences; The Tuohys have also written their own book.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money / Screw the Money, I Have Rules: While under investigation by the NCAA, Sean Touhy points out that Michael couldn't have been bought by the other colleges because they're already very wealthy (Sean and Leigh Anne's absolute loyalty to Ole Miss notwithstanding).
- But not that wealthy. Later, when Leigh Anne wants to build a foundation ("I want an actual building!") to help other inner-city kids like Michael, Sean fears that it might put a drain on their finances.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The other half of the book is about the development of Michael Oher's future position.
- The Unintelligible: The University of Mississippi's Coach O. The only person who can understand him is fellow Louisianan Sean.
- Coach O: Dajus da crap dey wrote bout me last sittee days! (That's just the crap they wrote about me the last sixty days!) trying to cheer Michael up after he almost killed his football career by attacking his teammate and was terrified of being expelled is one of the more intelligible of his lines.
- Write Who You Know: Michael Lewis was initially reluctant to mine his friends' story for a book; he had been close to Sean for many years as a child, though at the time of the book they hadn't seen each other in a quarter-century.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: When Leigh Ann notices that Michael only has one set of clothes, her first thought is to take him to Brooks Brothers. After Michael's been officially adopted into the family she starts teaching him to be Genre Savvy about the privileged world he lives in (paraphrased: "I know that knowing the difference between Chanel and Banana Republic seems silly, but it's something you need to know now that you're one of us").
- Sean, sort of: He volunteers to help coach the school's football team, and Leigh Anne is the first to point out that the ex-college basketball star doesn't know a thing about football.
- Michael wants to be a basketball player so badly that he almost completely ruins his opportunity to be a professional football player.