Movie review: Small wonders in 'Big Miracle'
You’re going to start crying the moment you see those trapped whales. But you’re probably going to watch the movie anyway.
Starring Drew Barrymore (“Charlie’s Angels”) and John Krasinski (“The Office”), “Big Miracle” is the story of Fred, Wilma and Bam-Bam, three California gray whales who are trapped under rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. Set in what is known as “the northernmost point in all US territory”—Barrow, Alaska—the movie goes to show how even a small community can help such behemoths survive the ravages of nature.
It’s one of those movies that show how you can triumph against all odds. The movie is formulaic. There’s the crazy Greenpeace lady nobody takes seriously, the lovable and talented love interest, the opportunistic network reporter, the enterprising kid, the boring but ultimately wise grandpa, and the sensible expert. And of course there are those last minute guys who come in and save the day.
You have to wonder why Hollywood sticks to these stereotypes. The crazy activist always has bad hair and no fashion sense. Aren’t there any people who are passionate about both social causes and good style? The adorable love interest just wants to make it to the big leagues, but is he ready to give up the small town he’s grown to love? The Barbie doll of a reporter will do anything to get the story. The wisecracking kid would rather listen to his rock music on his Sony Walkman than silly whale songs. And Grandpa is just trying to keep the old ways alive.
Hollywood sticks to these stereotypes because, under all the clichés and formulas, these stereotypes still contain a grain of truth. These stereotypes strike a chord and hit a nerve when we see them served up on the big screen that magnifies our collective feelings. And “Big Miracle” uses these stereotypes because in this story, these characters are real people, and the Herculean task that faced them was a real world problem that happened in 1988.
So while the story is predictable, the characters cookie-cutter and the changes of heart all very Hallmark, the thing to remember is that—with a few cinematic embellishments here and there—this stuff actually happened. Movies like “Big Miracle” are made because they remind us of all those big words and big ideas, like “indomitable human spirit,” “unity,” “cooperation” and “heart of gold.”
The movie also paints a quirky picture of retro Alaska. Little cues remind you that this story is happening in 1988. People still got all their news from TV. Phones had wires. If you wanted portable music, you needed a Walkman that barely fit in your pants pocket. Women had big hair. Big oil companies hadn’t yet discovered the merits of corporate social responsibility. And the only people who cared about endangered species were groups like Greenpeace and tribes like the Inupiat.
“Big Miracle” reminds you how different the world was. It shows you that in this era where Twitter and Facebook can, in a matter of hours, command thousands to volunteer their efforts to help the victims of Ondoy or the Japan tsunami, there was a time when it took so much more effort to rally people to a worthy cause. And rally the people did.
Indomitable human spirit? Actually, yes. –KG, GMA News
Distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment, “Big Miracle” opened on July 25 and is showing exclusively in Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Eastwood City, Lucky Chinatown, and the Newport Cinemas at Resorts World Manila.