Big Miracle parents guide

Big Miracle Parent Guide

A tale that appears contrived and unbelievable, "Big Miracle" bolsters its authenticity by including news footage in the closing credits of many of the real individuals involved.

Overall B+

When three Gray Whales get trapped in the Arctic ice, an environmental activist (Drew Barrymore) teams up with a skeptical journalist (John Krasinski) to try and save the aquatic mammals.

Release date February 3, 2012

Violence A-
Sexual Content A
Profanity B-
Substance Use A-

Why is Big Miracle rated PG? The MPAA rated Big Miracle PG for language.

Run Time: 106 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Hollywood has a knack for dumbing things down, and usually that’s one of my biggest complaints about a movie that depicts a true incident. However this script, that involves a cast of dozens, may actually benefit from the screenwriters’ ability to make a complex story accessible to younger viewers.

The plot begins in 1988 when TV reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) spots a trio of gray whales popping their heads above the ice outside of Barrow, Alaska. Desperate to send a news item to the affiliate station in Anchorage, the eager journalist creates an iconic report detailing the plight of the stranded aquatic parents and their calf. The story catches fire and ends up airing on the network, which sparks a pilgrimage of interested parties all pushing toward the remote community.

At the head of the line is Greenpeace activist Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore), who also happens to be Adam’s former flame. With her sights set on saving the whales no matter what the cost or risk, she creates a mood of emotional tension that everyone surrounding her struggles to tolerate, including Malik (John Pingayak), an Iñupiat Eskimo who respects life but also understands the reality of the difficult situation. In the mix too is oil tycoon J.W. McGraw (Ted Danson), a regular target of Rachel’s environmental concerns.

The movie provides ample discussion opportunities on topics ranging from geography to biology. It is a good example of how the media can turn any topic anywhere into a circus as well. And parents will be happy to know content concerns are few: Mild profanities and terms of deity are heard throughout, and young children may be saddened by the whales’ plight.

A tale that appears so contrived as to be unbelievable, Big Miracle bolsters its authenticity by including news footage in the closing credits of many of the real individuals involved. In addition, it scores points for a refreshingly balanced view of the situation. Each person comes to the rescue with a different personal motivation, yet in the end everyone—including the crew of a Soviet Union icebreaker—manages to bring his or her skills and hearts together for a relatively happy ending.

Directed by Ken Kwapis . Starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release February 3, 2012. Updated

Big Miracle
Rating & Content Info

Why is Big Miracle rated PG? Big Miracle is rated PG by the MPAA for language.

Violence: Whales are in peril, one falls prey to disease. Characters debate and argue about the situation.

Sexual Content: None noted.

Language: Mild profanities and terms of deity throughout.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Social drinking.

Page last updated

Big Miracle Parents' Guide

Did the media help or hinder this situation? How was Malik’s attitude consistent with Rachel’s? How did they differ? Were the costs and risks of rescuing the whales justified?

Two Minnesota businessmen come to the rescue with a product they invented to help melt ice. You can view their complete story with the whales by visiting their website at

Learn more about the real story here:

See a cynical view of the expensive rescue effort here:

For more information on gray whales check this National Geographic article:

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Big Miracle movie is June 19, 2012. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Big Miracle

Release Date: 19 June 2012

Big Miracle releases to home video with the following bonus extras:

- Commentary with director Ken Kwapis

- Deleted scenes with introductions by Ken Kwapis

- A “Big Miracle” in Alaska

- Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Related home video titles:

Aquatic mammals make a splash in the movies Dolphin Tale, Free Willy and Whale Rider. The documentary Oceans brings these creatures’ undersea world to life.