You can legitimately call Big Miracle the feel good movie of the year.
Never mind that the year isn’t very old. It is hard — however — not to like an “inspired” by a true story flick about saving endangered whales.
An inspired John Krasinski — from TV’s The Office — anchors the movie and leads an equally inspired cast of who’s who actors. Best known are Drew Barrymore and Kristen Bell. Supporting them are Ted Danson, Tim Blake Nelson, Dermot Mulroney and others.
And there’s a funny cameo by Sarah Palin.
It’s 1988. Krasinski plays a going-nowhere reporter doing human interest stories in Barrow, Alaska. While goofing with an admiring kid, he stumbles on to three whales surrounded by ice and in danger of drowning. He shoots a short piece that gets picked up by a major TV network. It captures the attention of the world. By the time the whales are saved, 150 journalists and 26 TV networks descend on Barrow. Big oil interests, Green Peace and other environmental movements and the president of the United States and the head of the then Soviet Union are involved.
While Krasinski and Barrymore get top-billing as the “stars” and their stories are at the center of Big Miracle, it is episodic rather than linear. Krasinski and Barrymore are as much supporting players as the rest of the cast.
And Big Miracle could just as easily have been a two-hour TV special. Considering the creative team behind it, that is not surprising. Ken Kwapis directs. He has done quite a few episodes of The Office. He also helmed Krasinski’s first and only movie headlining attempt, License to Wed. It was dreadful and quite close to brain death.
In films like this, Krasinski is terrific. He a great actor for a supporting role but carrying a movie isn’t his thing. His character — like those of the known actors — are all cookie cutter. They act and behave exactly like the TV characters they’re modeled from.
The most interesting characters and most of the film’s fun comes from the amateur Eskimo actors. They have the best, and most believable lines.
Believing is part of the problem with Big Miracle. The whales were real. Their plight authentic history. Most of the characters are actual people who actually lived or who are now living. You even learn the real-life fate of all the characters at movie’s end. This feels good all over the place.
It just doesn’t feel authentic. But take a hanky just in case. Authentic or not, Big Miracle isn’t bad.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 3 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.