“Big Miracle” is quite the whale of a tale. Miraculous? Maybe. Predictable? Mostly. Delightful? Absolutely.
This family-friendly adventure does showcase some miracle work: The Ken Kwapis-helmed film finds the antidote to partisan politics, cold war and the epic rivalry between Big Oil and Greenpeace: Whales.
Based on the 1988 true story that captivated the nation, John Krasinki (“The Office”) plays local Alaskan news reporter Adam Carlson who discovers a family of three whales penned in a tiny area of the Arctic Circle in danger of rapidly freezing over, thus drowning them. As his local news report makes waves across the country, the world comes crashing in. Major news networks rush to the story as well as an oil tycoon (Ted Danson) looking for good PR, the American military, the Soviets and Adam’s environmentalist ex-girlfriend Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore).
Even though the characters are predictable in this type of film, Kwapis takes the time to show each character’s contrasting viewpoints and how they amicably overcome their differences to save the whales. Danson’s oil tycoon is pompous but so is Barrymore’s Greenpeace advocate. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but both need some ice-cold Alaskan water thrown in their faces. But their woes multiply when those pesky Communist Soviets come to save the day. The characters’ reactions to the Soviets helping is almost comedic: free the whales, but not by those guys! The film’s main point is that no matter your beliefs, great achievements can be made if common ground is found.
One of the more interesting ideas presented in the film, which sadly wasn’t developed enough, was the role of the local Inupiats. The Inupiat hunt the whales for food, and with the three trapped whales as easy targets, they see the easy opportunity to feed their village. There is a small dialogue in the film about whether the whales should be used for food to help a starving people or set them free. For a brief moment the film isn’t so black and white, but that layer goes missing throughout the rest of the film.
“Big Miracle” puts the beauty of nature above politics, ego, war, fortune and glory. It’s a predictable but fun family adventure.