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Originally published November 19, 2009 at 3:46 PM | Page modified November 19, 2009 at 6:16 PM

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Movie review

'The Blind Side' — A football movie too sweet to score

"The Blind Side," by writer-director John Lee Hancock ("The Rookie"), is a fact-based football story about a bossy Memphis woman (Sandra Bullock) and the teenage sports prodigy (Quinton Aaron) her family adopts.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'The Blind Side,' with Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Lily Collins, Jae Head. Written and directed by John Lee Hancock, based on a book by Michael Lewis. 122 minutes. Rated PG-13 for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references. Several theaters.

Writer-director John Lee Hancock, who scored a sentimental hit with 2002's fact-based baseball movie "The Rookie," is back with another, less-engaging true sports story.

This one's about a football prodigy, Michael Oher (played by the well-cast Quinton Aaron), a homeless African-American teenager who was taken in by the Tuohys, a wealthy, white Memphis family. They became his legal guardians.

Sandra Bullock is a natural in the tricky role of irrepressibly bossy Leigh Anne Tuohy, who easily convinces her amused husband (Tim McGraw) and kids (Lily Collins, scenery-chewing Jae Head) to provide the boy with a place to stay.

Kathy Bates is the eccentric tutor they hire to raise Oher's grade-point average. She's identified as "a Democrat," a term that is used to suggest how desperate the conservative Tuohys have become.

Except for a few crude exchanges,"The Blind Side" is almost as squeaky-clean as an old Disney movie. Unfortunately, it can also be just as cute and condescending.

Based on Michael Lewis' book, "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," Hancock's script does use humor to keep things in perspective. And there's a genuine moral dilemma posed near the end, when Oher, essentially a nonentity in the rest of the film, is forced to question the family's motives.

Bullock turns on the charm to make Leigh Anne's pushiness palatable — this may be the best work she's done since "Crash" — but the movie itself fails to pull off the same trick.

John Hartl:

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