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Big Miracle Review Critics


Dave White Profile

How to do "fair and balanced" the right way. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Begrudgingly feel-good. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It's certainly a worthy saga. But given the abundance of one-dimensional human portrayals, it becomes apparent that a documentary on the subject might have been more powerful.

    Read Full Review

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Big Miracle is harmless enough, but what's annoying about it is its aura of fake activism. The movie doesn't seem to get that it's exactly when the news media began to devote more time to subjects like whales that it started to turn into news not for activists but for couch potatoes.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    It's the affable cast, headed by Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, that really makes the picture so widely accessible.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Big Miracle tells its sort-of-true version of events in a democratic and humane fashion, by way of a rangy, lively group of competing interests who actually do on occasion act like real people.

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  • See all Big Miracle reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Animal-rescue tale has one death but otherwise OK for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Big Miracle is an animal-rescue adventure that was inspired by a true story from the 1980s. Although the movie has positive messages about family, friendship, nature, and more, there's one very disturbing death that may cause little ones to cry out of sadness. Language includes a few exclamations like "damn," "holy crap," "hell," and "bastards," and mild flirting includes one kiss between a grown-up couple. Because this is a "period" drama, there are some political discussions about Reagan's administration versus the Greenpeace agenda. Kids will also learn about Inuit tribe culture, the difference between tribal and commercial whaling, and about whales and their migratory patterns.

  • Families can talk about why save-the-animal movies are so popular. Do you prefer movies with animals that talk or realistic depictions like the whales in Big Miracle?
  • What do you think the filmmakers wanted audiences to take away from the story? Were there political messages in the movie?
  • Does seeing Big Miracle make you want to learn more about the real story that inspired it? Parents, talk to your kids what you were up to in the late '80s and whether you remember this trapped-whales news story.

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true3

    Educational value: Kids will learn quite a bit about whales and their habitat and migratory patterns; Inuit culture and its connection to whales and whaling; the uneasy relationship between the United States and Russia in the late '80s; and the political differences in opinion between Greenpeace activists and the Regan administration.

  • message true4

    Messages: Many positive messages about family, teamwork, nature, appreciating your cultural background, and even politics.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: The Inuit tribe leader isn't just a chief, he's a grandfather who teaches Nathan about his heritage and how to listen to the whales. He also makes a decision to help rather than harvest the whales, even though it would benefit his people to use them for food and fuel. Nathan learns about his people and why the whales are so important to them. Rachel is a catalyst for change. Reagan's adviser is truly interested in the whales, not just how the situation will affect the administration.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence and scariness: The movie opens with an Inuit tribe hunting a whale, which they harpoon (this happens off camera). Bam Bam is injured during the ordeal; his breath sounds shaky and labored while he's ill. Spoiler alert: Children may become upset during an unexpected animal death. It's devastating, because audiences assume there will be a happily ever after. Expect younger kids to be disturbed, possibly to the point of crying. Also a few tense moments during a helicopter ride.

  • sex false1

    Sexy stuff: Nathan calls a TV reporter "hot." Adam flirts with Jill and eventually rekindles his relationship with Rachel; they share one kiss.

  • language false2

    Language: Mild language and insults/name-calling include "hell," "stupid," "holy crap," "witch," "damn it," "cocky," "bastards," and "oh my God." Because the movie takes place in the '80s, the Inuit tribe is referred to by the less politically correct term "Eskimo."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: The National Guard Colonel drives a Maserati and owns a JVC sound system and Mr. Coffee coffee maker. A Sony and RCA Walkman are also shown.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: In one scene in which two characters discuss job frustrations, many mini bottles of scotch are visible, and one character refers to herself as drunk. There might also be drinks on a table during a brief dinner scene or two, but it's not overt.