January 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm #53540
Summary: Inspired by the 1988 true story, it tells the tale of an Alaskan small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who are joined by (still-rivals) American and Soviet naval forces to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle.
Cast: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski,
Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson; directed by Ken Kwapis; produced by
Eric Fellner, Liza Chasin, Michael Sugar, Steve Golin and Tim Bevan; executive producers Paul Green and Stuart Besser; screenplay by Jack
Amiel and Michael Begler; based on the novel “Freeing the Whales”
by Thomas RoseJanuary 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm #53542
O man. Was it that long ago? Seems like yesterday to me….I like the words “inspired by”. Maybe it wont be as sad as it actually was.February 2, 2012 at 7:10 am #53543
Hollywood Reporter echoes the current 80% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes:
The generically nondescript title
aside, Big Miracle is an enjoyable, lively account of an Alaskan
animal rescue story that touched the world.
Using a broad, generous canvas to
recount the events surrounding the 1988 plight of a family of gray
whales who become ice-locked off the shores of Barrow, Alaska,
director Ken Kwapis and screenwriters Jack Amiel and Michael Begler
demonstrate an eye for playful period detail, but it’s the affable
cast, headed by Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, that really makes
the picture so widely accessible.
With its all ages appeal, the Universal
release could see some buoyant box office along the lines of last
fall’s Warner Bros.’ adventure, Dolphin Tale.
Based on the novel Freeing the Whales
by Thomas Rose, the film efficiently establishes its brisk tone and
equally brisk Arctic Circle setting, where local TV news reporter
Adam Carlson (Krasinski) covers the quality of the guacamole at the
town’s only Mexican restaurant. His dreams of making it into the bigger
markets are realized when he stumbles across three whales trapped
beneath the ice, with a single, ever-shrinking hole providing their
only oxygen supply.
Carlson’s footage of the whales’
plight initially captures the attention of his ex-girlfriend,
environmental activist Rachel Kramer (Barrymore), who quickly takes
up the cause. So does Tom Brokaw, who runs the story
on his NBC Nightly News telecast, and all of a sudden everyone wants
to be in the whale-saving business for very different, self-serving
With its socio-political ramifications
that travel far beyond the snow banks of Barrow, the story also
attracts the attention of everybody from the Alaskan Native
population to a pro-oil-drilling businessman (Ted Danson) to the
Reagan White House, looking to position vp George H.W. Bush as a
pro-environmental humanitarian and even the Glasnost-promoting
They’re all given the same
even-handed treatment by Amiel and Begler’s script, and while
character complexities tend not to run too deeply below the surface,
there’s more than enough for Kwapis and his talented cast to
utilize to their advantage.
Both Barrymore and Krasinski are
terrific and credible both in their respective lines of work and as
still-involved former couple. Good, too are Danson; Dermot Mulroney
as a steadfast National Guardsman in charge of transporting a
gigantic hoverbarge in an ill-fated rescue mission; and Vinessa Shaw
as persistent White House executive assistant Kelly Meyers.
Also enjoyable are all those 1988
touches, from the clunky Walkmans to Gordon Gekko references, while
those real-life broadcasts by Brokaw, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and
company have been nicely integrated into the dramatic recreations.
On the subject of recreations, New
Zealand-based special effects artists Justin Buckingham and Mike
Latham do a sufficiently convincing job of bringing those California
gray whales to life (they served a similar function on 2002’s Whale
Rider); while veteran cinematographer John Bailey crisply captures
all that still frosty terrain and steel blue sky.February 2, 2012 at 7:14 am #53544
Roger Moore, Dallas Morning News: *** out of 4:
The title isn’t an exaggeration.
Something like a big miracle occurred back in 1988 when the plight of
a family of gray whales stranded under the Alaska ice captivated the
world and forced oil men, environmentalists, native people, the
Reagan administration and even the Soviets to team up on a rescue
And it’s no small miracle that the
story of that nearly forgotten moment makes for a delightful family
movie. Political cynicism, media opportunism, dogmatic native
traditions, corporate greed and environmentalist stubbornness are
each, in turn, dashed against this sunny confection.
John Krasinski plays Adam, the very
definition of a small-time TV reporter who hungers to hit the big
time. Then he stumbles across three whales — parents and a baby —
clinging to an air hole in the ice outside Point Barrow, Alaska.
They’re miles from open ocean and aren’t expected to last more than a
day or two. Adam’s “there’s a tragedy unfolding here in Barrow”
story gets picked up by NBC because, as one wag cracks, “Brokaw’s
a sucker for whale stories.”
Next thing you know, every network is
on the story. Alaskan Greenpeace activist Rachel (Drew Barrymore)
starts shrieking. The tribal whaling council has to be shown how bad
“harvesting” the whales will look to the world. Mr. Big Oil
(Ted Danson) has to be conned into seeing the PR value in letting
“some hippies use my (icebreaker) barge to save some whales.”
All of this makes for a slight film of
simple, obvious charms. But screenwriters Jack Amiel and Michael
Begler get the little things right. Every character has a function.
Barrymore and Danson flesh out the environment-versus-jobs debate.
Kristen Bell, playing a drop-in reporter, represents the shallowness
of big-time TV.
The film wisely shows that the would-be
villains have a human side and that the supposedly righteous – the
natives and environmentalists – can be downright unpleasant.
Barrymore’s Rachel is shrill and dismissive. Danson’s oilman has a
soft streak. Sure, there are plenty of Hollywood touches, but a lot
of this story is true. “Big Miracle” is a charming,
feel-good movie that the whole family can enjoy.