February 4, 2012
Review - " Big Miracle " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Ken Kwapis
Starring: John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Dermot
Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson
It’s Free Willy on ice as Alaskan TV reporter John
Krasinski and eco-warrior Drew Barrymore come to the
rescue of three grey whales trapped in the fast-freezing
waters near a tiny Arctic town. Capturing the world’s
attention, their race against time soon becomes
headline news, uniting everyone from the native
community and the National Guard to the White House
and beyond. Based on a true story from 1988, this
environmentally friendly family adventure is designed to
warm your heart and chill your tootsies.
this Arctic escapade is so green it’s a miracle they got
permission to build on it.
Inspired by Operation Breakthrough, an international
effort to free a family of California grey whales from the
ice surrounding Point Barrow in northern Alaska, the
distress call here is raised by nice-but-going-nowhere
newsman Adam (Krasinski).
To the hapless cetaceans, it’s a matter of life and death.
To Adam, concerned as he is, it could be his ticket out
of town. To his ex-girlfriend, fearless Greenpeace
campaigner Rachel (Barrymore), it’s another cause that
cannot be ignored - a point she makes to both the state
governor and her old nemesis, oil magnate J.W.
McGraw (Ted Danson).
For once, they have to agree. Because to them, saving
animals in distress is good publicity. To Colonel Scottie Boyer (Dermot Mulroney) – the no-nonsense National Guard pilot
ordered to fly McGraw’s ice-busting rig to Barrow – it’s his duty. To the native Inupiat tribe, however, it’s a waste of good meat.
But they too can see that chowing down on the gentle giants might not shed their community in a good light. Especially with
half the world’s press descending on Barrow, including Adam’s favourite LA newsbabe Jill Jerard (Kristen Bell). To Jill, it’s a
No doubt about it, it’s in everybody’s best interests to get Fred, Wilma and Bamm-Bamm (as the family is rather inconsistently
nicknamed) to safety. Unfortunately, getting three living submarines through five miles of solid ice is not as easy as it looks.
Maybe a couple of de-icer salesmen from Minnesota could help? It would be a great advert for their product. And with the
only ice-breaker in the area belonging to Russia, it presents the perfect opportunity for a show of glasnost from the
superpowers that be.
To the watching world, it’s a worthy story, straightly told. The tightness of the situation makes it a little light on underwater
action, but people power saves the day through a slew of engaged and engaging performances, particularly from the ever-
affable Krasinski and Alaska native Ahmaogak Sweeney as his enterprising young pal.
The only (human) casualty is Barrymore whose one-note character never tires of clubbing everyone to pulp with the
In movies like this, objectivity is
an endangered species. But
for all its biodegradable
flag-waving, the script also
acknowledges that Greenpeace
did pretty nicely out of the
As the real news footage
shows, small stories can make
the biggest impression. Happy
endings obviously help.
So while you’ll have to google
Operation Breakthrough (or
read journalist Thomas Rose’s
source book Freeing The
Whales) for the whole truth,
this is one instance where
Hollywood’s near-enough is