Ah, a movie about an event that really happened...almost 24 years ago. I remember reading about this as a child; I was really into whales circa 1993.
Directed by- Ken Kwapis
Written by- Jack Amiel, Michael Begler, & based on the book by Thomas Rose
Top Billed Cast- Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, & Kristen Bell
Set in Barrow, Alaska, in 1988, this movie centers around the plight of Gray Whales. Adam Carlson (Krasinski) is a reporter that has been working in Barrow for 4 weeks when he stumbles upon the trapped mammoths. With only a small space to use to breath and winter approaching fast, the situation gets international attention as people rush to save the whales.
* Because the movie is set in 1988, there are a lot of pop culture references that made me laugh. Walk-Mans, cassette tapes, typewriters, and phones with actual cords just to name a few.
* Krasinski pretty much carried the movie. It's not really that his performance was out of this world but, his character's development was one that was easy to track and actually see.
* While I wish that her character got more in the way of a story arc, Kristen Bell was quite convincing in her role and it brought a lightness to certain parts of the movie that really needed it.
* Wardrobe. I might not have been wearing anything but onesies in the '80s but I've seen enough on TV and family pictures to recognize good choices when I see them.
* The animatronic whales were pretty good. Nothing on Free Willy but, sufficient.
* While the homage to all things 1988 was good..I felt the film relied too heavily on archived footage. In some movies, they'll sprinkle bits of real feed in with what they shoot and that works really well. The movie then feels authentic without looking cheesy. In this movie, I felt like I might as well have just googled "Tom Brokaw coverage, 1988 Gray Whales" and watched the same exact thing without the $10.50 price tag.
* I don't like when movies involve past Presidents. I understand that it was necessary to include the fact that Ronald Reagan was involved in this rescue but I heartily disagree that they had to use a "look-a-like" (I guess he looked like him..we only really saw his profile) for two seconds before cutting to real footage of him doing a press conference.
* There's a few parts in the movie where Drew Barrymore's character pretty much saves the day. I'm not going to specify which part I'm referring to but, let's just say...I've never seen a knife cut so quickly or a person so dexterous in that weather.
* I dislike rabbit trails in movies. If it doesn't matter for the end game, please don't make it seem important.
This movie is rated PG and pretty clean. I can't actually recall anything that would make me want to caution anyone. This movie does talk about death and killing so be prepared to discuss the ways in which other cultures live. Viewer beware..
Overall, I really just didn't care. Sure, the movie had a couple emotionally stirring moments but, for the most part, it was just middle of the road. It certainly didn't evoke the same feelings that Free Willy did and I felt a tad disappointed by that. I didn't hate the movie but I also didn't love it. I could take it or leave it at 3/5 stars.