Movie Review

Big Miracle also known as “Everybody Loves Whales”

MPAA Rating: PG for language.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Family Romance Drama
Length:
1 hr. 47 min.
Year of Release:
2012
USA Release:
February 3, 2012 (wide—1,900+ theaters)
DVD: June 19, 2012
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

whales in the Bible

ice

snow

food in the Bible

animals of the Bible

courage, bravery

endangered animals

helping animals in trouble

Featuring: Kristen Bell
Drew BarrymoreRachel Kramer
John KrasinskiAdam Carlson
Dermot Mulroney
Ted Danson
Tim Blake Nelson
more »
Director: Ken Kwapis—“He’s Just Not That Into You,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “License to Wed”
Producer: Universal Pictures
Anonymous Content
Working Title Films
more »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“A family of whales trapped beneath the ice. One unforgettable rescue. Inspired by the incredible true story that united the world.”

In 1988, a family of gray whales gets trapped within an enormous pack ice in Barrow, Alaska. With just a small opening not yet covered with ice, the whales only have a small area to obtain oxygen. Soon their desperate account is international news, and an enormous relief effort is formed, as people all around the world hope for the best.

The great majority of the film focuses on the plight of the whales. The different measures being discussed and shown take up a lot of screen time, so some viewers might find this film boring. However, for those who really want to know how much time and effort was placed in trying to free the whales would appreciate all the details.

Along the way, there are some subplots. Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore) is a Greenpeace activist who confronts J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson) when he wins a bid to drill in Alaska. McGraw only agrees to help the whales when his wife gently helps him see how this would be a good publicity stunt for his oil company. John Krasinski plays Adam Carlson, a motivated reporter, who first breaks the whale story.

The film has a strong environmental/liberal agenda, and the Reagan administration isn’t remembered too fondly. Oil tycoon McGraw is portrayed mostly as a greedy villain, while Rachel Kramer displays compassion. Though the characters are a bit one sided, there are moments where Kramer is condescending and confrontational to those who disagree with her views. She has to be reminded that people have gone out of their way to help the whales. And near the end, McGraw has a seemingly genuine moment where he compliments Kramer’s efforts with the whales, and the two polar opposites have somewhat of a truce.

The profanity is quite high for the PG rating. In all there are 13 uses: 6 hells, 4 d_mn, 1 b_stard, 1 SOB, and 1 jacka_s. God’s name is misused at least 3 times. One girl is called a “groupie”. A young boy states that a woman is “hot”. There’s a brief kiss scene near the end of the film. A female reporter is shown making it to the big leagues, by being able to land an interview with a well-known adulterer.

A spear is thrown towards a whale, but the scene is cut before the spear leaves the hunter’s hand. When a pilot’s eye gets frozen shut, a male reporter licks it in order for it to open. A female reporter states she’s drunk, but doesn’t really act like it. In the next immediate scene, she’s completely alert and reporting breaking news.

My favorite group of characters in the film is the Inupiat hunters. At one time, they were considering killing the trapped whales for food. They keep their composure as Rachel Kramer somewhat ridicules them at a town meeting. An Inupiat grandfather wisely tells the other hunters that they shouldn’t kill the whales, since the world would have “bloody” photos of them killing the whales. Though some protest on how the ocean is their garden, the grandfather explains that the world would not understand their culture. Afterward, the hunters go above and beyond in trying to help free the whales.

Of course, hunting the whales isn’t Biblically wrong. However, the hunters understand that not everyone agrees with it. In short, they are protecting their culture and the feelings of others when it comes to the whales. Likewise, Christians should watch how we speak and act, especially to those who do not believe, since we are living testaments of Christ’s sacrifice. In Colossians 4:5-6, Paul wrote:

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Overall, I felt the film was decently made, but I don’t personally recommend it. Though a bit high on the cursing and liberal stance, “Big Miracle” does offer some valuable themes that could be used for Biblical discussions. If you do see it, make sure to watch the end credits. Real footage is shown of the real whales and the people who helped free them.

Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This is a good, solidly made family movie inspired by facts. Actual television footage is nicely presented to promote the credibility and historicity of the story. The actors were well cast and the screenplay was clear, easy to understand, and had an enjoyable amount of humor. I listened for profanity and foul language, but I just didn’t catch it.

This movie is valid because it tries to depict a real event in history. To criticize it for not whitewashing that reality into some sort of “Christian” drama is just not fair to the producers, nor to a Christian audience that can see the film for what it is—an effort to bring to the cinema an interesting event in nature that most of us never heard of for one reason or another. (I am old enough, but just don’t remember it.)

I also enjoyed seeing elements of the local culture, albeit it was not Christian. I think the movie is suitable for young people and is justly rated as PG, which stands for Parental Guidance, not General audience.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Halyna, age 65 (USA)
Positive—I loved this movie! It was so fresh and original. This is a movie you do not want to judge by its trailer… it was misrepresented as a senseless comedy, and many scenes were shown out of context. There are great messages in here about family and what’s really important in life. The negative content level was low, the intelligence level was high, and my whole family enjoyed it immensely!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Positive—I enjoyed this movie a lot. Being from a small Alaskan village, I was excited to see the whole film shot in our state and recognized many faces on the big screen. I would like to respond to the comments made about the local culture and chanting being unchristian. Actually, most Native Alaskan communities are strongly Christian. The chanting may have been a prayer song, which is probably why the elder ended in “Amen.” God does not care what language we praise him in. Our songs and dances are used to honor Him. As an Alaska Native Christian, I am grateful I am able to praise God through my beautiful culture.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mary, age 37 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—was a good movie except for saying OH MY GOD!!! which I deplore—do not understand why people automatically use this phrase in this manner. There is no reason to do this except to PRAISE, HONOR, APPLAUDE, WORSHIP, and that is the only way it is acceptable to me please, all people involved in writing and making films stop doing this.,
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Carol W Patterson, age 69 (USA)
Neutral—I liked the initial plot about different people all coming together to help each other… but they lost me after awhile. Drew Barrymore’s character made me want to pull my hair out! John Krasinski was likable, but I didn’t really get anything out of the romance, because they didn’t give us much to like about the girl.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I would agree pretty much with the overall synopsis. The story is a “feel good” story, with a pretty obvious environmental slant, without any nuances. I did appreciate the way the tribe did consider and then reconsider the “harvesting” of the whales, when the Elder said “the outside world would only see blood”. I wasn’t pleased at the native chanting, but was surprised when one chant ended in “Amen”. Although the movie appeared to be setting up a “clash of cultures” between the lead hero and the grandson of the tribal elder (outside music albums, etc.) on the impact of the outside world on the tribe, nothing was pursued; the grandson seemed to “understand” once the whales were freed, and it was implied he turned towards the old values.

I was not pleased with the language used; for a PG movie, totally unacceptable; the synopsis seemed to capture the various curse and slang words. Although I was hoping for a good family movie, the language and political slant disappointed me, and I could not recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Casey, age 46 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—What a cute movie! Such an amazing story. And the best part is, It’s all TRUE!! Finally there is something out there that has such a touching story. …Although for parents with young children, there is some swearing throughout the film. But that is about it. It was an awesome movie with great quality. Hope everyone gets to see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Meaghan, age 13 (USA)

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