Big Miracle

A light-hearted family tale


It’s that time of year again – the time when the cutesy family movies begin to drown us in their strong morals and emphasis on integrity and fighting for what you believe in. The most recent in this line-up of whimsically feel-good movies is Big Miracle, a film that depicts the true story of the 1988 Operation Breakthrough, which was an effort to free three gray whales trapped in the frigid waters near the Arctic Circle. With a cast of familiar faces, an environmentally friendly theme, and a plot involving saving animals, it was obvious that the movie was meant to appeal to an audience that simply wanted a story to satisfyingly cry happy-tears over. Coming out on DVD June 19, Big Miracle provides an unexpectedly gratifying journey, however also proving to have some whale-sized faults along the way.

For those not familiar with the story of Operation Breakdown, the film is able to tell its story in a heart-warming way, while also staying close to the facts present in the real events. John Krasinski plays newbie reporter Adam Carlson, who is waiting for his big break while filming small stories in Alaska. His dream comes to life in the form of three gray whales, who have found themselves trapped amongst the ices near the Point Barrow, Alaska with nowhere to ago. As word gets out about the three leviathans in dire need of human help, Carlson’s ex-girlfriend Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore), a Greenpeace representative, joins in the fight to save the whales. Gradually, the world becomes more and more immersed into the tragic tale of the beasts in danger, and the US responds direly in order to rescue their animal friends. It seems like no matter the cost, everyone is doing their best to pitch in their own actions and ideas in order to save the whales.

The most bamboozling aspect of Big Miracle is that its most shining moments also happen to be its drawbacks. The characters; they’re so likable, while at the same time they leave the audience questioning whether or not their actions are done through actual good morale, or simply done in order to better polish their name to the world. Yes, they contributed in the efforts to save a group of whales, but does that justify anything they’ve done in the past or will be doing when it comes to the earth’s wellbeing?

One of the characters, J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson), is the biggest 180 degrees character there is in the bunch. While he does offer help and becomes a likable protagonist, his role as an oil company tycoon still makes him a person that isn’t as eco-friendly as the audience may want him to be. The idea that he suddenly wants to save a few mammals when he has probably been killing thousands of them with his oil drilling company challenges the help that he has to offer. Does he really want to save the whales, or is he just doing this for his own benefit, in order to gain a more nature-friendly name?

Although Big Miracle’s characters don’t hold as much credibility as it may want, it tells a story accurately and effectively, making it a well-made, family drama that jerks at the heart strings and manifests a stable enough plot that any age can follow.


About Anna Scholl

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One comment

  1. I agree that this movie told the story of the gray whales quite accurately and it was a great family film to watch. However, I had the same thought when the oil tycoon joined the bandwagon in support of these whales, that didn’t seem consistent. Also, I think a Greenpeace activist would have questioned him a little more.

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