Movie Review: "BIG MIRACLE"
Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012
Updated: Saturday, February 4, 2012 05:02
"BIG MIRACLE" is precisely the kind of film that you would expect it to be based upon the trailer. It is a happy, fun time, family film that wants to do everything in its power to make you leave the theater feeling good about yourself, America, and humanity in general; after all, we save whales! In this goal, the film does fantastically well and, if this is all that you are expecting, you will likely enjoy it.
Based on a true story, the film focuses on three whales who are trapped off of the coast of Alaska by ice that has thickened unseasonably early. Adam Carlson (John Krasinki of "The Office") is a small-time reporter up in Barrow, Alaska, covering various other stories when he stumbles upon the whales. As in the actual story, the whale tale spreads like wildfire and soon media from around the United States are flying up north to cover the story. Adam's ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Drew Barrymore), is an activist so determined to save the whales that she is not afraid to bully the mayor or fight with the big oil tycoon—played superbly by Ted Danson ("Cheers," "SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). There is also a touching story, between the characters played by Ahmaogak Sweeney and John Pingayak, about a boy torn between the tradition and Inuit culture of his father and the appeal of modern and western culture of his friend Adam.
Other side plots include Adam romantically pursuing the up-and-coming reporter Jill Jerard (Krisen Bell; "Veronica Mars," "FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL) and attempts by the National Guard to bring an enormous ice-breaking vessel to free the whales, an endeavor headed by Colonel Boyer (Dermot Mulroney; "ABOUT SCHMIDT," "THE FAMILY STONE"). The characters are, overall, the expected stereotypes of themselves; Jill is concerned with her career, the oil tycoon only helps to make his company look good, etc. Still, it fits well enough with the flavor of the movie that it never overpowers.
Nothing about this film is remarkably memorable, but it remains enjoyable none-the-less and is perfect for a family outing. It has a good amount of laughs and, regardless of your emotional investment in the characters or the film itself, you cannot help but feel for the actual whales who were trapped in similar conditions with no hope of freedom on their own. It was the power of the media, the determination of one activist, the kindness of the Inuit people, and the chance invention of a pair of brothers from Minnesota that truly saved those whales (if you believe the events to be as the film portrays them).
The ending is not the storybook, picture perfect spectacle, providing a nice change from the family norm while still remaining touching and inspiring. I was also surprised to find that one of the seemingly cliché stories of romance in the film was included because it was true to life. Of course, they always say that truth is stranger than fiction; this film makes that statement ring true.