It’s unusual for one event to make the whole world blink at the same time, but in Ken Kwapis‘ latest that’s exactly what happens. Big Miracle, starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, tells the fascinating true story of three grey whales who captured the world’s attention when it was discovered that they were trapped in ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. It’s hard to go wrong with a story about whales, just like it’s hard not to smile at a YouTube video of a kitten. But this story is about more than cute whales, it’s about real people and real lives. Let’s review Big Miracle, but beware, some of these stories will shock you.

The Players:

  • Director:Ken Kwapis
  • Writer: Jack Amiel & Michael Begler (screenplay), Thomas Rose (book “Freeing the Whales”)
  • Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Ted Danson, Kristen Bell
  • Cinematography: John Bailey

The Plot:

Based on real life events, Big Miracle tells the story of a family of grey whales stuck underneath the ice in a small Alaskan town. News reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) and Greenpeace advocate Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) work with the Inupiat community and big time oil tycoon J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson) to rescue the whales, and in the process manage to get the whole world’s attention.

The Good:

  • The Performances: John Krasinski has got to be one of the most charming and likeable people in the biz, both onscreen and in real-life. Yes, he seems to only play one character (Jim from The Office), but he’s great at it. In Big Miracle, his character, Adam Carlson is a Jim-type – hardworking, honest and witty. Krasinski possesses this strange power where anything he’s in automatically feels right, and that’s the deal here. He’s also got awesome people around him, like Drew Barrymore who’s almost as charming as he is. She plays Rachel Kramer, an outspoken animal lover who will die fighting for what she believes in. Barrymore plays her character with passion and delivers a touching performance. Also worth noting is the awesome Ted Danson, who plays an oil tycoon. Danson couldn’t be more different than his character, but in the film you wouldn’t be able to tell. One could say he’s the “villain” of the story, but it’s hard to hate him because he’s just so damn hilarious.
  • A Strong Message With No Agenda: Big Miracle could have been a preachy film, telling us to save the earth and its wild life, but Kwapis chose to focus the attention on the people rather than their cause (hey, this isn’t a documentary). Plain and simple, this is a story about people coming together and doing what is right, despite their own personal agendas. The film shows that people can be good and selfless when it comes to something bigger than themselves. In this story, an oil tycoon, a Greenpeace advocate, Alaskan natives and even the Soviet Union come together to rescue three whales. Yes, they all have different point of views, but at the end of the day, they realize that saving these whales is what’s most important.
  • Real Footage: One of the most outrageous stories in the film is a love story between a Colonel and a government worker. The film shows how these two people came together because of the whales, meeting over the phones and later falling in love. As ridiculous as this story sounds, it’s 100% real. They actually met and married. At the end of the film, Kwapis chose to include actual footage of broadcasts that aired during the rescue in’89. He also included home videos of some of the real life characters that the actors portrayed, and there’s even a short clip of a young Sarah Palin! It was quite enjoyable.
  • Collective Experience: Big Miracle offers a collective experience. It’s not quite a comedy, not quite a love story, and not quite a drama, but it does offer a lot of laughs, a lot of cute moments and maybe, if you’re sensitive enough, a few sobbing moments. It’s a roller-coaster ride!

The Bad:

  • A Fictional Love Story (SPOILERS!): One story that wasn’t actually true was the love connection between Adam (Krasinski) and Rachel (Barrymore). The two shared a past and throughout the story we learn that Rachel still has feelings for Adam. In the end, the two rekindle their love and get back together. Their love story just didn’t feel right. There was other great material that it just felt unnecessary. Also, they share more of a brother/sister bond, so it was awkward to see them kiss.


Big Miracle is a cute movie with great performances and a humble message. Definitely worth checking out.

Rating: 7.5/10

Big Miracle opens February 3, 2011.

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Will you watch Big Miracle?