Ah, the ’80s: a time when we only had but a few television stations in the US (unless you were rich enough to have one of those fancy, huge satellite dish thingies), and the nightly news was viewed in almost every home across the nation. Of course, we had to watch it. After all, what if the Russians launched nuclear missiles at us, thus turning our Cold War into World War III? Fortunately, news broadcasters occasionally took a weight off our minds, such as when they brought us day-to-day accounts of three whales trapped within the ice of Alaska. If you were there, you might remember the incident. If you weren’t, good news: somebody made a movie about it.
Naturally, most of the facts behind the basis of the film — an event that has since become known as Operation Breakthrough — have been altered drastically or dropped altogether in order to truly sell the family drama Big Miracle. Numerous political and eco-friendly undertones have been added, as has a love story or two, and so on. But that’s all pretty much irrelevant if you’re looking for something to simply be entertained by, because Big Miracle does at least succeed in that respect.
Drew Barrymore takes the lead as Rachel, a gung-ho Greenpeace volunteer who gets tangled in a great big media circus spawned by her kind-hearted reporter ex, Adam (John Krasinski) who discovers three gray whales trapped in the ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. As Rachel attempts to get a local governor (Stephen Root) and oil magnate (Ted Danson) alike to help out with a rescue operation — a task easier said than done since she has ticked them all off on multiple occasions — Adam tries to gain enough media coverage to entice the rest of the world to assist.
Despite all the unnecessary undercurrents (ha, ha) the writers threw in here, Big Miracle emerges as one of those classic matinee flicks wherein entire families would show up to have a good laugh and a good cry. And, essentially, it is just that — only somewhat more pretentious than its predecessors. The cast (which also includes Tim Blake Nelson, Kristen Bell, Dermot Mulroney, John Michael Higgins, and Rob Riggle) delivers sincere enough performances. and the heartwarming tale has the required daily doses of the five basic emotion groups to warrant your attention for 107-minutes.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings us Big Miracle to Blu-ray with a beautiful High-Def transfer and DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack that are surely just as crowd-pleasing as the feature film itself was in theaters. The Blu-ray of this Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/UltraViolet combo pack also includes several special features: an audio commentary with director Ken Kwapis, two behind-the-scenes subjects, and a couple of deleted scenes.
In short: you shouldn’t expect that big of a miracle out of this one, but you should at least expect a good, rather generic time.