The Blind Side is a rousing celebration

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      Starring Sandra Bullock , Tim McGraw, and Quinton Aaron. Rated PG.

      Even though my uncle Joe played professional football (breaking in with the B.C. Lions in 1958), the sport has always taken a back seat to my affection for hockey, racquetball, and watching my hair grow. Although the violence is interesting, there are just too many rules to remember.

      Watch the trailer for The Blind Side.

      Or maybe not. After seeing The Blind Side, I finally understand a whole lot of football arcana: the flea flicker, the college recruitment process, the legacy of Lawrence Taylor’s defence. Even more oddly, I enjoyed learning. The movie’s fact-laden qualities may derive from its origins as nonfiction. It explains that left tackles are often the second-highest-paid players on a squad. They protect the best-paid player, the quarterback, from the side that he can’t see if he is a right-handed thrower. Left tackles are, ideally, huge, wide, quick, and smart—rather like Michael Oher, Baltimore’s first pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

      According to The Blind Side, Oher was not only gifted but incredibly lucky. We meet him (Quinton Aaron) as a Memphis teen from a miserable background, taken in by the rich Tuohy family, who sheltered and eventually adopted the future star athlete.

      As with his previous sports feature, The Rookie, writer-director John Lee Hancock turns this implausible life story into a slickly rousing celebration. The movie is corny but rarely sweet, thanks to solid acting. As Dad Sean Tuohy, Tim McGraw inhabits the line between alarm and awe, grounding the family in which Oher blooms. Sandra Bullock, newly blond, gives a force-of-nature performance as the saintly but relentless Leigh Anne Tuohy. Like Hugh Grant before her, Bullock seems ready to cast aside the crutch of endearing haplessness, revealing at last the darker, far more interesting adult.