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"Big Miracle": Whale of a Humanitarian Tale

Some movies are enhanced by being based on true events. Such a film is “Big Miracle.” If it wasn’t based on truth then the acts included to save trapped whales, or the romances that transpire between real life individuals, would appear to be sappy and insincere. But since they are based on the truth they become heartwarming events that inspire the spirit and celebrate the humanity of individuals.

"Big Miracle” is based on an actual event which occurred in Barrow, Alaska in 1988. It was discovered by a local television reporter that three whales were trapped under the ice in the Arctic Circle. The whales were not able to reach open water because there was an early freeze that blocked the whales from coming to the surface for air. They had discovered a small hole where they could come up and breathe but they couldn’t go any further.

The reporter, Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), did a special report on this situation which was picked up by Tom Brokaw’s nightly news show. This brought it to the attention of Greenpeace activist Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) who became involved in the fight to rescue the whales. And it did take a mighty effort to try to set them free. At one point it got President Ronald Reagan as well as a Russian ship involved.

In the film the focus is on the story of the whales but there are side stories about romances that developed, comic situations that arose, and dramatic moments of tension between individuals. Still the overall effect is to highlight the efforts of many individuals who put their own careers on hold in order to try to save a mama, poppa and baby whale that are called Fred, Wilma and Bam Bam by the press.

The actors in the film are all good at reacting rather than acting in their parts because the entire storyline involves how the individuals reacted to the plight of the whales. So the highlights of the movie are those times in which something happens that causes a reaction by one of the central figures in the story.

In addition to Barrymore and Krasinski, we also get good performances from Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Tim Blake Nelson and Ted Danson. Some of these roles are just glorified cameo appearances but each one adds to the total of what is “Big Miracle.”

The film is rated PG for mild profanity.

Every once in a while we need a film that glorifies the beauty of the human spirit and the innate shared brotherhood of mankind. You get that in “Big Miracle” and it is a miraculous thing to see.

I scored “Big Miracle” a whale of a tale 7 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper


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