Big Miracle58 About 15 minutes into the new inspirational family film Big Miracle, an insufferable Drew Barrymore exclaims, “But this is different—whales
are in danger!” I rolled my eyes so hard I almost had a seizure.
Playing a Greenpeace activist fighting to help free a family of gray
whales trapped in the rapidly freezing Arctic Ocean, Barrymore oozes
with maudlin sap while still managing to be an obnoxious bitch—and I like
Drew Barrymore. The otherwise enjoyable cast includes cute-as-a-button
John Krasinski playing the small-town reporter who breaks the story and
Ted Danson—who lately can do no wrong—as a northern Alaskan oil baron
(who is still more likable than Barrymore’s activist). Based on the true
story that became international news in 1988, Big Miracle
benefits from an impressive series of events and some cool archival news
footage, including a young Tom Brokaw. In what was primarily a
political stunt, the Reagan administration deployed the National Guard
and even reached out to the Commie Russians for help freeing the whales.
The expense was surely exorbitant, but when people work together
despite their differences (cue orchestra’s sentimental crescendo) that
warm, blubbery feeling is priceless. PG. PENELOPE BASS. Opens Friday at Lloyd Mall, Cedar Hills, Tigard, Eastport, Clackamas, Evergreen, Bridgeport and Division.
The Grey56 Liam Neeson’s latest box-office smash is essentially the John Milius-penned USS Indianapolis speech in Jaws—“so,
eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out, and the sharks
took the rest, June the 29th, 1945”—if you culled the initial survivors
down to seven, replaced the sharks with wolves, and replaced John Milius
with nobody. Neeson is working as a wolf sniper on a Yukon pipeline and
thinking about shooting himself in the face (say what you will about
Liam’s recent testosterone surge, when you get Oskar Schindler to anchor
your action flick, you get a guy with a flair for looking like he wants
to shoot himself in the face), but he boards the wrong charter plane
home. The inevitable plane crash is extremely loud and incredibly gross.
Because The Grey is not based on a true story, there’s none of
the usual survival-tale compunction about getting intimate with severed
body bits. Director Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces) homes his camera
in tight as the doomed men give the dogs their bones. It’s unsettling
and only somewhat undermined by the dialogue, which I believe Carnahan
achieved by asking a drunken child to read Jack London aloud. Anyway,
Neeson delivers the bombs. R. AARON MESH. Opened last Friday
at Fox Tower, Lloyd Center, St. Johns Twin Cinema-Pub, Cedar Hills,
Tigard, Eastport, City Center, Clackamas, Oak Grove, Evergreen,
Bridgeport and Division.