Drew Barrymore finds 'Big Miracle' in human (and whale) tale: review (+trailer)

( PG ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

A classic save-the-whale story, 'Big Miracle' has a limp, by-the-numbers execution, despite its solid lineup of actors, including Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski.

Universal Pictures
Drew Barrymore (r.) as animal-loving volunteer Rachel Kramer offers comfort to a trapped whale in the rescue adventure ‘Big Miracle,’ based on a true story in Alaskan waters.

If you're old enough, you probably remember the saga of three whales – nicknamed Fred, Wilma, and Bam Bam – who were trapped in Alaskan waters in 1988. The international efforts to free them dominated the news for a few weeks, not merely because it was a timely environmental human (and whale) interest story, but because the joint American/Soviet efforts were symbolic of the disintegration of the cold war.

In this dramatization from director Ken Kwapis ("Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird"), the irresistible Drew Barrymore plays an always uncompromising, sometimes irritating Greenpeace agitator; John Krasinski is a local TV reporter who breaks the story. (A subplot about their romance feels like a halfhearted, demographically contrived add-on.)

Stephen Root, Ted Danson, Dermot Mulroney, and other familiar faces lend their support, but it's not enough to overcome the limp, by-the-numbers execution. The film comprises innumerable expository scenes, leavened with uninspired comic relief. Grade: C- (Rated PG for language.)

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