October 24, 2014
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Big Miracle
Don Fowler
4 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Family film based on true event)

If you remember the miraculous whale rescue in a small Eskimo village in Alaska's Arctic Circle in 1988, you'll enjoy the recollection of this heart-warming, uplifting story of courage and determination against all odds.

If not, we won't give away the ending, except to tell you that it really was a "big miracle,” involving a number of divergent groups all coming together to save three whales trapped under the ice, with only a small hole for them to get the much-needed air to keep them alive.

John Krasinski ("The Office") plays Adam Carlson, the Anchorage TV reporter who travels to Barrows to do human interest stories, like eating at a Mexican restaurant in Eskimo country. His big story comes when the whales are trapped and the local villagers try in vain to break the ice and free the whales.

Quick to rush to the scene is Greenpeace advocate Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore), Adam's former girlfriend. They had split over political and personality conflicts but find they must work together to save the whales. While this bit of fiction adds to the storyline, most of the events really happened, including another romance between political opposites.

The Eskimos originally want to kill the whales for the much-needed meat. A big oil company executive (Ted Danson) wants the oil drilling rights. State and national politicians want nothing to do with it, until TV reporting makes it the compelling story of the week. Reporters from all over the world rush to the tiny town, filling the one hotel and overcrowding the restaurant. Director Ken Kwapis does a great job of showing all sides of the issue and has a little fun depicting the culture clashes.

The movie raises many issues without being pedantic. It does pull at your heartstrings as ideas and efforts to save the whales at times seem fruitless.

If you remember the events, which happened during the Cold War, you know how this amazing story ends.

"Big Miracle" is a great family film, although there is one sad event that may need some comforting words from Mom and Dad. Stay for the credits, where you will see some actual footage of the people who were involved in the "big miracle.” Rated PG, with some minor profanity.


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