Big Miracle
Friday, February 17, 2012

Director: Steven Soderbergh; Cast: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender

If a movie is cheesy and knows it’s cheesy — if it embraces the soft, gooey texture and pungent aroma of its own fromage — does that make it any more palatable as a meal? That is the question to ponder while watching this rousing, feel-good, family-friendly animal adventure that has the added benefit of being based on a true story. It’s a weird hodgepodge, mixing the large cast and the melodrama of a 1970s disaster movie with the small-town quirkiness of Northern Exposure, with just a touch of the big-haired ambition of Broadcast News. At its centre are three gray whales — a mother, father and baby who found themselves trapped within the quickly forming Arctic ice near Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the United States, in 1988. The effort to free them in the open water brought together a disparate alliance of environmental activists, oil executives, journalists, native people and even the Soviets toward the end of the Cold War, and it fascinated viewers worldwide. John Krasinski plays Adam, the boyishly enthusiastic local TV reporter who breaks the story. He gets some help from an adorable little native boy (Ahmaogak Sweeney) who looks up to him as a big brother as well as from his idealistic ex-girlfriend, Greenpeace leader Rachel (Drew Barrymore). But soon everyone’s invading this small, remote town for a piece of the action, which sets up all the fish-out-of-water scenarios you’d expect. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell are among the ensemble cast. PG for language. 107 minutes. — AP


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