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Big Miracle

Popcorn Rating



Movie Info


Rated PG for language


Drama, Romance


Feb. 3, 2012


Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Ted Danson, and John Pingayak


Ken Kwapis


Universal Pictures

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Big Miracle

By Beth Patch Producer - Inspired by the true 1988 story that flooded the national and international news media, Big Miracle goes a step beyond a documentary by infusing the endangered whale story with romance, drama, Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski and lots of Eskimos.

Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) lives a daily crusade for justice for all things living and natural, which fits well with her job at Greenpeace. When she sees the local whales in danger in a report by her former boyfriend, reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), she wastes no time heading to fight city hall to DO SOMETHING to save these poor whales. Of course she meets resistance: government vs. environmentalist; and begins a personal offensive to fight for the lives of these whales. Her character is serious and dogmatic, probably much like Cindy Lowry, the actual Greenpeace coordinator of the event.

Adam Carlson's main goal, like most news reporters, is to make it out of the small town news and on to a major city and the national TV scene. His previous relationship with Rachel shows signs of maybe-this-isn't-over-yet, as she takes daring steps to save the whales and he wants to protect her.

Their relationship looms in the background of the most important drama - saving the whales.

In a Nutshell
Thickening ice threatens to entomb a family of three gray whales stranded in Northern Alaska. Local news reporter Adam Carlson airs the story showing three whale muzzles bobbing in and out of the water, surrounded by ice as far as the eye can see and telling of the likelihood that they will die when the frozen tundra closes up the hole. They can't go anywhere as it's frozen solid for miles. The human interest story is picked up by the major news networks and becomes of national, then global interest.

Prior to the media frenzie, Alaskan Eskimos and environmental groups had been fighting to protect the natural beauty of Alaska and the government had been buddying up with big oil companies to boost oil drilling in the vicinity. The popularity of saving these whales became such a big deal across the globe, that a rescue plan became the only choice. However, the plan would require cooperation between locals, government bureaucrats, oil tycoons, the national guard, and eventually the Russians. Will all that cooperation and humbling of differences help before the ice closes up and kills the whales? The odds of survival were heavily stacked against the three unsuspecting whales.

Of Particular Note
Big Miracle's heartwarming tale shows that even in real life the pettyness of politics and the outrageousness of media hype can be overcome by a greater purpose - life! The true story was dramatized, but not the basic facts. The fight for life became a priority when the people of the world rallied together.

Maybe because the story is based on reality, it lost a bit of oomph in the dramatic representation. There were several love relationships depicted, but each had its limitations on development as the intrigue remained focused on the facts: the logistics of getting the whales free was a huge and complex ordeal. Maybe it would have never made the big screen as a documentary, but as a romantic drama, it's lacking in romance.

The historic news clips from the TV news reports of 1988 bring back some wonderfully familiar news anchors and presidential faces that we once treasured and are not with us anymore (and at least one face of someone we didn't know back then, but surely know now).

All in all, moviegoers remain interested in the outcome of these whales: a mother, father and their baby, throughout the story. The timeline of rescue efforts and how they are carried out keep us rooting for success and are well-depicted. I only heard two profanities and they were what most would consider minor league curse words (d...). Big Miracle is up there with Free Willy in relation to how motivated the audience gets for the lives of the main marine characters.

Beth PatchBeth Patch serves as an Internet producer and Daily Devotionals editor for For more articles and info, visit Beth's bio page.

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