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Even though they're big and powerful, they're so much like us.

Big Miracle
(2012)

Likeable family fare starring the ever-adorable Drew Barrymore accompanied by The Office's John Krasinski. This based-on fact story of a trio of grey whales stranded in the Arctic ice in 1988 has sufficient distance to allow a fairly politically astute account of events. Albeit one tempered by an anthropormorphic  attitude from the film makers that is reflective of the thinking that made this such a big story at the time.

From the cynicism of most parties' involvement in the media-fuelled coverage of the whales' plight to the over-earnestness of Barrymore’s Greenpeace supporter (who wades in without regard for the Inuit way of life), there's no lack of insight into the characters' often less than altruistic motivations. But somewhere along the way there seems to have been a choice that a film for all ages means it has to be big-hearted towards all parties (even Ted Danson's environment-busting oil tycoon).

What has all the ingredients of a great tale (Ronald Reagan's on the phone, even the Russians help out!) ends up slightly anodyne thanks to Ken Kwapis' rather flaccid direction. It comes as little surprise that most of his work has been in TV comedy.

The montage of period reportage over the end credits shows how close this hones to the actual story (even the unlikeliest elements such as the romance between the President's staffer and the national guardsman); and that is Sarah Palin back when she was a sportscaster. The outcome for the aquatic mammals was less definite than the one depicted by the film, but no one could accuse it of lacking generosity.


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