An American Story
Release Date: February 03, 2012
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John
Krasinsky, Ted Danson, Kristen
Bell, Ahmaogak Sweeney, John
Pingayak, Dermot Mulroney, Tim
Blake Nelson, Vinessa Shaw,
John Michael Higgins, Stephen
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 107 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Ken Kwapis
Executive Producer: Liza Chasin, Debra Hayward,
Stuart Besser, Paul Green
Producer: Steve Golin, Michael Sugar,
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner,
Writer: Jack Amiel, Michael Begler
Address Comments To:Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO/President, Comcast Corp.
Stephen Burke, CEO, NBC Universal
Ron Meyer, President/COO, Universal Studios
Adam Fogelson, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
Set in October 1988, the movie’s opening focuses on Adam Carlson, a young TV reporter from Anchorage, Alaska. Adam’s been far north in Barrow, Alaska above the Arctic Circle for several weeks reporting on the local happenings.
Adam longs to be a TV reporter in “the lower 48,” the name Americans use for Mainland USA. He sees his chance when he finds three whales trapped in the approaching winter ice just outside of town. He gets his chance when his report goes national on NBC News.
His ex-girlfriend Rachel, a Greenpeace environmental activist, is upset Adam didn’t call her about his discovery. Adam reminds Rachel that she told him not to call her.
Rachel finds out that the oil company getting approval for a new pipeline has a huge floating barge that could break through the ice and help the whales get to the open ocean before the Arctic freezes up completely. Mr. McGraw, the oil company leader, sees an opportunity to get some good press. So, he and Rachel force the governor’s hand to use the National Guard to send some big helicopters to take the barge the couple hundred miles to Barrow.
When the barge breaks down, however, time begins to run out for the whales. It’s up to the town’s Eskimos, a Russian icebreaker, and a couple of ice rink entrepreneurs from Minnesota to save the day.
Like many great American movies of the Golden Age, such as IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, BIG MIRACLE shows Americans of different backgrounds coming together in some way or solving a problem together. Despite having a lot of characters, the filmmakers of BIG MIRACLE deftly keep the movie’s focus on saving the whales and solving the problems that arise.
At one point, the environmental activist and the oilman share a moment of appreciation for one another’s efforts in saving the whales. They admit it’s now hard for them to hate the other person any more, though they still disagree about the issue of oil drilling. At another point, the activist expresses anger and distrust over the hunting whale tradition of the local Eskimos, but she’s clearly harsher than she should be, and the Eskimos defy her liberal expectations. Finally, at a crucial moment, the leading Eskimo elder prays for the whales in his native language. Though not translated, at the end of one prayer, he says, “Amen.”
That said, a few comments mention that some people are complaining about the Reagan administration’s environmental record and support for oil companies. The worst offense comes, however, in a short epilogue during the end credits that refers to the 1989 oil spill of the Exxon Valdez. Thus, the end credits clearly tilt the movie toward the radical anti-oil policies of the modern environmental movement. This moment contradicts the movie’s climactic scenes in the third act, which are filmed in a way to satisfy both liberals and conservatives.
BIG MIRACLE also contains plenty of mostly light foul language. Hence, caution is advised, especially for younger children.
Inspired by a true story, BIG MIRACLE shows Americans of different backgrounds working together to solve a problem. Even the environmental activist and the oil company executive start to get along, despite their disagreements. The filmmakers deftly keep the focus on saving the whales and solving the problems that arise. That said, BIG MIRACLE has some foul language and some politically correct moments. Thus, caution is advised.