Big Miracle follows Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), a charming reporter in Alaska. While covering a few fluff pieces and palling around with the locals in Barrow, he discovers three whales that have become trapped in an ice pack. He immediately shoots a short report on it and sends it back to the main facility in Anchorage. From there the story catches fire, becoming a national sensation and creating the drive to rescue the whales. The whales’ tragic story draws in Adam’s Greenpeace ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Drew Barrymore), and Los Angeles news anchor, Jill Jerard (Kristen Bell). Through a series of criticisms and political meetings, the National Guard and even the head of an Alaskan oil company (Ted Danson) become involved in the rescue. The film spans over several days, touching on the political struggles involved in such a controversial operation. Interestingly enough, it also shows the culture clash between the flood of visitors to Barrow and the local tribe that has other ideas for the whales.
Sadly, the acting in Big Miracle is painfully predictable. John Krasinski slips back into the ever familiar role of “Charming, Guy-Next-Door”, while Drew Barrymore almost takes the “protester” role too far. Barrymore tends to be more annoying in her scenes, instead of being inspiring. Kristen Bell is convincing enough as the shallow, pretty girl and Ted Danson is able to make you hate his character just the right amount. I don’t think that the poor performances are entirely the actors fault, due to the sappy script that they had to follow. You can’t really blame them when they are put into such stereotypical roles.
While the story of the three whales and Operation Breakthrough are interesting, Big Miracle doesn’t quite capture the same feeling. You’ll be intrigued with the rescue of the whales, but there is a large amount of time focused on the series of cheesy moments involving the lead roles. Whether it’s Adam goofing around with a local Inupiat boy or Ted Danson being sprayed in the face by the youngest whale, most of the scenes seem forced and lacking in passion. Still, Big Miracle keeps enough of the focus on the main plot to make up for even the cheesiest of moments.
Big Miracle does a surprisingly good job with its special effects, creating some remarkably real looking whale puppets. Also, the mock up Barrow, actually created in Anchorage, does a great job of portraying the isolation of the small town. The soundtrack was passable, but generic. With almost no defining characteristics, the score behind Big Miracle is entirely forgettable and quickly fades out of your mind after hearing it.
Don’t get me wrong, Big Miracle is a cute movie. It’s a great movie to take your children or grandparents to, but outside of a family element, it is just another family flick. It is easily enjoyed, but tends to drag in the middle. Balancing a sappy script, an unnecessary love story and a genuinely interesting basis, Big Miracle becomes an adorable mixed bag.
I give Big Miracle 3 “Sweet Snowmobile Tricks” out of 5