Big Love ~ Movie Review of ‘Big Miracle’

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on May 6, 2012 0 Comments

‘Big Miracle’ is based on the 1988 rescue operation in Point Barrow, Alaska dubbed ‘Operation Breakthrough’ which involved the saving of three California gray whales that became trapped under the rapidly forming winter ice.  The incident itself started as a filler piece on the ‘NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw’ and then took a life of its own with odd pairings of Greenpeace environmentalists, oil companies, the Inuit community, the White House, and even a ship from the Soviet Union (which at the time was still a nation seen as antagonistic towards the U.S.).  What originally became a fluff piece turned out to be a major news story bringing media outlets from all over the world to tiny Barrow, Alaska (the northern most community in the United States).


                ‘Big Miracle’ is the sweet Hollywood film version of what was already a feel good story (however if you don’t want to know the truth about what probably happened to the whales do not click on the Wikipedia page ‘Operation Breakthrough’…just stay happy because you deserve your delusions!).  Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski star with supporting performances by Ted Danson, Stephen Root, Dermot Mulroney, Rob Riggle, and Kristen Bell.


              Barrymore plays a Greenpeace activist who has some notoriety for interrupting a big wig oil drilling rights auction.  Meanwhile Krasinski, her former boyfriend, is doing new reports about such things like the opening of a Mexican restaurant in Point Barrow (which is of course, is very, very north of the border).  He has been biding his time until he can return to the warmer climate of Anchorage but what he really wants to do is be a reporter somewhere in the lower 48.  After doing news segments on such things as the high price of food in Barrow he is finally at the point of moving on when a promise to a young friend requires him to do one more report about a stunt snowmobile rider.  While filming he spots some whales poking out from a hole in the ice.


             What was captured in the movie, which was true for the real event, was that the three whales were a family and that in a very human relatable way the parents did not want to the child (estimated to be nine months) who was incapacitated to die alone.  The problem for them was that they did not escape to the Arctic Ocean before the winter ice began to form.  Even with the aid of humans, the longer the adult whales waited for the youngest to gain strength (or die) meant that the ice became thicker which decreased their odds of survival.  I distinctly remember the event and through the film was reminded about how cool it was to have all of these opposing factions working together to free these animals.  Sure, everyone started with different motivations, good publicity for some, but at the end of the day they were just as invested as anyone else to get these whales back to warmer California waters.


              ‘Big Miracle’ is very much like an updated version of those feel good live action films Disney used to produce back in the day.  The whole point is for audiences to smile seeing that people, despite their differences, can work together to accomplish things that in the end don’t benefit them directly.  They invest their time, money, and energy because it is the right thing to do.     


             I recommend ‘Big Miracle’ for a good family film, a date night, or even something to see with friends.  Sure it is syrupy, but I didn’t think it was over the top, yet if you aren’t in the mood for a little bit of preciousness in your cinema than it might be best to stay away and go to the movie where everyone is dying from an incurable air borne illness.  I think ‘Miracle’ will also play well on DVD. 


              Happy viewing!


Westerfield © 2012

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