PHOTO: Sandra Bullock, in her Oscar-winning role as Leigh Anne Tuohy, tells Quinton Aaron’s Michael Oher to consider his teammates as family who must be protected in “The Blind Side.”

The Blind Side (Warner, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 128 min.). This is the true story of a gentle giant, African-American Michael Oher (played by newcomer Quinton Aaron),  who, when homeless as a high school junior, was given a home by Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw), a couple who owned dozens of Taco Bells in and around Memphis. Bullock earned her Oscar for the one feisty scene in which she barges in on a football practice to tell Michael to treat his teammates as family members who need to be protected. Bullock is excellent throughout, as is Aaron, but this scene is her best.

Michael is struggling in school, the same school Tuohy’s daughter Collins (Lily Collins) attends, but if he can raise his grades he can play sports. It is young SJ Tuohy (an excellent job by Jae Head) who speaks kindly to Michael first, and later the family spots Michael walking in the cold without a coat and offers him a place to stay overnight, which soon becomes permanent. Michael is not much of a talker, so it takes a long time to learn his backstory in the Hurt Village section of Memphis. There is a touching scene between Leigh Anne and Michael’s mother.

Once Michael starts to play football, he becomes an instant star, leading to a parade of real-life college football coaches playing themselves during the recruitment process. (Oher would eventually join the NFL, drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with a pick they got in a trade from New England.) Kathy Bates plays his tutor Miss Sue who is, like the Tuohys, an alum of Ole Miss. The inspirational part of the film is that one can overcome harsh beginnings and one can chose a constructive life rather than a destructive one, then succeed with hard work and some luck.

Extras are plentiful, and exclusive to Blu-ray. They include an interview with Oher; a conversation between Bullock and Leigh Anne; a conversation between director John Lee Hancock and author Michael Lewis; the also-inspiring story of actor Aaron; a look at the coaches playing themselves; and four deleted scenes. There is a digital copy as well. The film also was nominated for Best Picture. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 3.25 stars

The Men Who Stare at Goats (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray of standard DVD, R, 94 min.). The film is too amiable to be satire, yet there are elements of that as well as “more of this is true than you would believe” is its beginning message. George Clooney is very good as Lyn Cassady, recruited several years ago for a secret U.S. Army psych spy corps. He comes to believe that he can kill a goat by thought alone, as well as disperse clouds and locate people by remote viewing (those type of experiments were conducted by the military). Ewan McGregor plays Ann Arbor, Mich., reporter Bob Wilton, who has been dumped by his wife and is trying to get into Iraq to cover the current conflict to prove he is worthy of her. He happens to encounter Cassady, who had been referred to by a man he once interviewed who discusses remote viewing military experiments.

With his usual casual charm, and high degree of hippie proclivity, Jeff Bridges plays Army officer Bill Django, who has an epiphany after falling from a helicopter in Vietnam and is put in charge of the Army’s First Earth Battalion training. Kevin Spacey plays Larry Hooper, who joins the battalion but is extremely jealous of Cassady’s success.

DVD extras include an audio commentary; four deleted scenes; a 12:29 look at the real military project including book author Jon Ronson and Jim Channon, who actually ran First Earth Battalion; a report from the set; character biographies; and a digital copy of the film. Grade: film 3 stars; extras 2.5 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Additional reviews are available online at and include season four of “Father Knows Best” and other releases.