Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Movie Review: Big Miracle

In the movie world, few movies make you want to see them time and again. Most are highly forgettable chick flicks or action-packed guy’s movies. They come out, they gross about $50 million for their respective studios, and then are quickly relegated to the $5 bargain bin at Wal-Mart. Big Miracle is a wonderful show that makes you want to watch it time and again, albeit with some blankets! It takes place in Alaska, and the snow and winter chill is so accurately portrayed that you begin to feel as if you need to bundle up just to see the movie!

Okay, for those who haven’t seen the movie, here’s a quick rundown of what I liked without giving anything away! The story takes place in Barlow, Alaska, during the month of October 1988. This fact alone endeared the movie to me, as that’s the month and year I was born! This is also a true story, so for those who were alive during that time you may remember the story of the three whales stuck in the ice in Alaska. (My family didn’t when I asked them, but then they had a lot going on!) “Operation Breakthrough” made national news, and as the authentic news clips show, Peter Jennings of and several other famous anchors all were talking about it! This race to save the whales captured the nation’s attention, and has stayed with me long after I left the theatre.
The cast is fantastic, Drew Barrymore as Rachael Kramer, a Greenpeace fanatic, John Krasinski as Adam Carlson, low-level news reporter who breaks the story, and Kristen Bell as Jill Jerard, a feisty news reporter from the mainland. Some scenes may be a little intense for a younger audience, thus the PG rating, but for those parents who think their kids can handle the race against time to save the whales, this is a perfect family movie that is inspiring without being preachy. The politics help provide a good juxtaposition against the cheesiness we have come to expect from ‘save marine life’ movies, so the older audience doesn’t feel gypped!

Now, SPOILER ALERT! If you don’t want to know what happens, don’t read any further, okay! The next bit is just for those who have watched it and want to discuss what happened. I’m even going to put in a great picture from the movie right here to give you a chance to scroll up again.
Okay, you’re still reading. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Wow, I have been waiting 6 months for this movie to come out, pretty much ever since I caught a whiff of the advertisements. It caught my attention because of John Krasinski, who is pretty much my current favorite actor (you may know him as Jim Halpert from The Office), and also because of the story, which for once didn’t throw up red cliché flags.

When I watched Big Miracle, I was so excited because for once, a movie lived up to my expectations! Sure it was a little mushy around the edges, but the true-story aspect solved that issue for the most part, and the humor helped keep things light. I was so sad when Bamm-Bamm, the baby whale died. I have to admit, I knew that was coming before I saw the movie (I read past a spoiler alert, just like you are doing now) but I kept hoping that the review was mistaken. The bravery shown by Rachael jumping in the arctic water was beautiful, the humor shown by the characters kept things light, and wthe two remaining whales finally raced into the open ocean the entire audience clapped!
My absolute favorite humor bit happened on the helicopter. What do you do when you’re driving a helicopter in 50 below temperatures with the doors open at 100 mph (so the wind chill is pretty much off the charts) and your eye, the one absolutely essential thing you need freezes shut? Well, you get someone to lick your eye of course! The whole audience laughed uproariously when Adam Carlson leans over to the pilot and proceeds to lick his eye open, probably the most bizarre moment but definitely the funniest!

In the end, it was the Russians to the rescue and two of the gray whales saved, thanks to heroic efforts by all involved. I liked that Adam and Rachael got back together, it somehow seemed right. I also secretly enjoyed the fact that Jill Jerard had a career plateau, and for everyone who was wondering what the fade-out was on the lady at Adam Carlson’s new job, that’s actual footage of Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska. The plot was engaging, the storytelling and real footage made it immediate, and the acting sealed the deal, to make this the best movie this winter, at least until The Lorax comes out!

Well, that’s all I got for now. I am definitely planning on buying this wonderful film when it comes out, if for no other reason then it’s nice to have some documentary from the month I was born. I have to give Big Miracle a Big YES in my book!

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