Like oil tycoon J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson) says in Big Miracle, helping save whales is good for public relations. There are so few ways to go wrong. And that's precisely the feel of the film - it knows it can't go wrong as long as whales are the subject matter and saving them is on the agenda. Because really, who would criticise a film with such a positive message?
Based on real events from 1988, the film follows TV news reporter Adam Carlson as he (John Krasinski) discovers a family of three grey whales trapped in a gradually closing hole of ice in Barrow, Alaska.
The whales spring up for air, but need to get to the open ocean if they are to live. That gets the attention of Greenpeace activist Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) and a media circus. McGraw offers to lend a hand, and soon, everyone is pitching in to set the whales free.
There's a tendency for the film to oversimplify everything. I came away with three main messages: oil spills are bad; saving whales is good; And bringing people together for the common good is also good. Nothing philosophically revolutionary here!
The seemingly insurmountable task of freeing the whales is also oversimplified. There are too few hurdles for the rescue mission to overcome and relations between rival factions are patched up or overlooked far too conveniently. This 'against all odds, humanity prevails' film, clearly chooses diplomacy over substance.