Big Miracle: It takes a global village

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Back in 1988 it was big news:  a group of grey whales was trapped in ice near Point Barrow, Alaska.  “Big Miracle” is based on the international effort that saved them, with of course plenty of poetic film license.  But the fact that Operation Breakthrough was such a widely covered effort is what elevates “Big Miracle” from the crowd of “Free Willy” type movies.

“Big Miracle” boasts a big cast.   John Krasinski plays a reporter who stumbles upon the big story that ends up captivating the world.   Drew Barrymore is his ex girlfriend, hell bent on saving the whales, as any Greenpeace activist would.  Her character is both obnoxious and inspirational in its devotion and unswerving commitment.  As it turns out, the whales’ only shot at survival comes out of purely political salvation not sympathy for their plight.  Oil companies want to look like they care so that they can get additional drilling rights.  The indigenous people care because they do not want to look like savages.  And ultimately President Reagan cares because he wants his administration to leave in good enough graces that another Republican, Bush, will be elected.

The tale of the rescue has its setbacks with plenty of heroes from pilots to ordinary guys with a new product to launch.  The best part is something only someone with a few years on them can appreciate.  Archival clips of just about every major news anchor from the time are featured throughout the rescue.  Brokaw, Rather, Jennings are all there to give the day’s play by play as people race against time to save the whales.  If you remember the story you might already know how it ends.  I didn’t but it doesn’t take a genius to figure they weren’t going to make a feel good family movie that ends it tragedy.  That’s not so say there aren’t plenty of ups and downs along the way.

I couldn’t help but think what a great testament it was to the human race that during tense times, we came together for a noble cause:  life.  It’s hard not to wish we could do the same today and just for a moment, unite for love not war.  Not bad for a movie about saving some whales.


“Big Miracle” de-ices 3&1/2 Red Vines for being good family entertainment


A preview of this movie was provided to me by the studio but it in no way affects my unbiased review.