NOW, LOOK HERE. This writer is as wet a liberal as you could fear to meet. On balance I am opposed to sending children up chimneys, poisoning pandas and silencing Janeane Garofalo. But this sanctimonious claptrap is enough to propel the most dedicated eco-warrior towards the John Birch Society.
Big Miracle concerns itself with that 1988 news story – wrack your brains, oldies – concerning the absurdly expensive rescue of several stranded whales in northern Alaska.
The film-makers do attempt some balance. As the story progresses, it emerges that Greenpeace, the Reagan administration, the Soviet authorities, the oil drillers and the indigenous Inupiat community all saw the campaign as a publicrelations exercise.
However, the overwhelming tone of worthiness is quite suffocating. By the close, one moves from wishing that Drew Barrymore, as the chief enviro-nut, would just shut up, to imagining a world in which Greenpeace activists could be confined in unregulated battery farms.
This is storytelling of the most galumphing class. John Krazinski plays a journalist stranded in the icy town of Barrow. To better demonstrate the film-makers’ inclusiveness, our hero makes friends with a young Inupiat lad who, initially addicted to poodle rock, gradually comes to terms with his native heritage. Ted Danson growls as a rapacious oil magnate with a deeply buried heart of gold. Barrymore complains shrilly. Somebody’s back plays the rear section of Ronald Reagan.
On reflection, it is the film’s desperate efforts to be evenhanded – rather than too much green proselytising – that really grates on the nerves. Every passing character is revealed to have both selfish motives and hidden integrity.
The attempts to humanise the contemporaneous administration is particularly ludicrous. “Gorbachev has been asking us to trust him on this ‘Glasnost’ thing,” one official says, when considering calling in the Soviet icebreakers. We cut to Reagan’s back as he picks up the phone. “Hello? Gorby?” the great communicator intones.
I laughed so hard I could barely swallow my unethically reared veal.
Thar she blows: Drew Barrymore