"Big Miracle" Review

Title: Big Miracle
Director: Ken Kwapis
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski
Studio: Universal Pictures
Genre(s): Drama
Rated: PG (For language)

Can a there be a good family movie that covers an inspiring true story while also living in the real world? In the case of “Big Miracle” I may have just found it. Based on Operation Breakthrough, the 1988 international effort to rescue grey whales that got trapped under the ice of the Arctic Circle, the movie will likely draw families who love movies about whales into the theater in droves. What families are about to discover is a startling, unspoken truth in many of these situations: that good people do good things to cover up bad deeds. See, the movie begins with out-of-town news reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) who stumbles upon the whales while doing a story on Mexican food.


His story is lucky enough to be shown on ABC News, and before you know it he's sitting on the hottest story in the world. His ex-girlfriend Rachel (Drew Barrymore) sees the story on TV and drops everything she's doing to go try and save the whales. I should also mention she is the head of Greenpeace, a non-profit organization to save the environment. Part of me wonders how someone like Rachel makes the money she does to make the trips she does when her company is non-profit, but whatever, that's not really a major issue here. No, the major issue is she needs resources to save the whales, but the government is reluctant to spend money and (more importantly) risk human lives for whales.

Eventually someone does come through: J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson), the owner of an oil company. He hates Rachel but is willing to assist in the rescue for some good publicity. And once Ronald Regan hears about the whales…why, this would be a good PR move to help when it comes time for George H.W. Bush to run for president. Of course, it baffles Rachel why she would need to convince people to help the whales at all. When local Eskimos petition to hunt the whales she is appalled. Why would they kill these innocent creatures (which include a baby)? Answer: Because that's how they eat, and more whales won't be around for several months. They need those whales to survive.

Try telling that to an environmentalist though. By now I've gone through the dilemmas and maybe you can see why this is such an interesting family film. This film is a hopeful film, in that it believes people can come together to help save these animals who have found themselves in a situation they can't get out of themselves. This film is not, however, a naïve film. It understands that Rachel is the only one who truly does care to save the whales. I mean, she runs an environmental organization, so regardless what she says, saving those whales is her job. That the government and oil companies get in for selfish reasons infuriates her, but she just has to suck it up because she has no choice.

If she wants those whales saved bad enough, she'll have to do it at the risk of letting people she hates come off as the saviors. In a more conventional film, everyone would drop what they're doing out of the goodness of their heart. This film is more understanding though, and knows that sometimes good things come from making a deal with the devil. I heard the original title of the film was “Everybody Loves Whales” but was changed to “Big Miracle” late in production. This was likely done because “Big Miracle” makes the film sound more conventional and less political, which is deceiving but somehow more appropriate in a poetic sort of way.

Parents, there is some minor curse words. Recommended for ages 7 and up.