Big Miracle

Ready for a PG feel-good movie? Okay, but get out your parka, 'cause it's gonna get COLD! We go to Barrow, Alaska to witness a real-life drama that took place in the 1980s. Not only is it BASED on real life, during the final credits we get to see the REAL people who were in- volved, along with the actors who portray them. What a treat!

Based on the book, Freeing the Whales by Thomas Rose, we are quickly involved in a news-making event where we see three gray whales trapped in Arctic ice, which triggers a media frenzy. We watch clips of many news reporters of the time: Tom Brokaw, Sarah Palin, Dan Rather, Larry King, and others, who provide moment-by-moment updates as the whole town of Barrow, Alaska fights the extreme cold to cut breathing holes in the ice that will help the whales reach open water.

We see:
  • Drew Barrymore ("Going the Distance") as Rachel, a fire- breathing, dyed-in-the-wool Greenpeace activist, determined to save the whales. I'm glad Drew's cosmetics contract seems to have expired; she looks normal in this one.
  • John Krasinski ("Something Borrowed") plays Adam, a newsman sent up from Anchorage to a small Alaska town north of the Arctic Circle; he's trying to find a news story that will allow him to break into the Big Time. Krasinski always seems so likable!
  • Ahmaogak Sweeney, in his first film, portrays Nathan, a clever local boy (this isn't Nathan's first rodeo) blessed with an equally clever Iñupiat grandfather. (Anyone wanna buy some cardboard?)
  • John Pingayak is Malik, Nathan's Iñupiat grandfather, who under- stands two things: 1) the value of tradition, but also 2) the power of modern-day media and its influence on public opinion.
  • Dermot Mulroney ("The Family Tree") is Colonel Scott Boyer, the military officer who actually told the White House to please call back when he wasn't so busy. He was in charge of an attempt by the United States to cut a path to open water for the stranded whales.
  • Ted Danson (Lots of TV) is the successful oilman who is mani- pulated into trying to save the whales. Danson clearly enjoys playing a bombastic anti-conservationist.
  • James LeGros and Rob Riggle are hilarious as a helpful pair of Minnesota inventors who bring their little homemade gizmo to Barrow. Their accents are spot on!
This film provides everyone with a forum to sound off, giving voice to the diverse points of view which surround oil drilling in Alaska: big business, wildlife conservationists, native people and small-town America. It shows the beginnings of a thaw in the Cold War when Gorbachev gets a call from Reagan asking for help from a nearby Soviet icebreaker.

There is one too-handy romance that blooms and I was skeptical until I saw the wedding picture of the REAL characters during the final credits. I appreciate that this is based on true life, therefore we can expect some loss and sadness. In my opinion, children shouldn't grow up on a steady diet of Disney where everything always works out and there is no sorrow. The children in the screening audience were intent, but not traumatized. The audience applauded this one.
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Here is a link to a preview:
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