Review: Gentle 'Blue Miracle' catches heartwarming message
Courtesy of Netflix
A harmless and gentle after school special that’s obviously based on a true story (and features a grizzled, deeply monotoned Dennis Quaid looking like Captain Ahab in route for Moby Dick), Julio Quintana’s “Blue Miracle” harbors a heartwarming narrative about one man’s quest to save his fraying orphanage through a lucrative, local fishing competition. That would be Omar (played here by Jimmy Gonzales delivering a genuine and honest performance contrasted to Quaid’s snarky and sarcastic one) who is over $100k in debt and is struggling to keep the lights on at Casa Hagar, an all Mexican boys home that, in the years since the film took place, has expanded to include girls.
Children of all shapes and sizes rely on Casa Hagar for shelter and food and Omar bears the weight of that responsibility along with his patient and dedicated wife Becca (Fernanda Urrejola). As if warding off collections agencies wasn’t enough, the recent landfall of Hurricane Odile has caused more infrastructure damage, setting the orphanage back years in progress. In an effort to keep Casa Hagar operating, local fisherman Wayne Bisbee (Bruce McGill) - whose tournament the Bisbee Black-and-Blue awards a $1,000,000 cash prize for whichever crew net a blue marlin within a three day timeframe - teams Omar with Wade (Quaid), a former two-time champion with a bark more serious than his bite, to enter the competition and have a shot at the saving the orphanage by splitting the profits 80/20.
“Blue Miracle” follows a predictable trajectory, but none of that really matters as long as the relationships and camaraderie among the crew - made up of Wade, Omar and several teens (and one young tyke) plucked from Casa Hagar - are believable. Ironically enough, Quaid feels at ease playing the scowling fisherman clearly inconvenienced by Omar, though, in typical feel-good theatrics, warms up to the kids and even tells old war stories (like the time he almost lost his leg in the midst of competition). Numerous life lessons are not lost on the viewer: the type of ‘cheaters-never-prosper’ attitude that’s good natured enough to avoid reading as preachy.
None of the children have characteristics (or dimensions) beyond: class clown, troubled youth-in-need of some tough love, and adorable, innocent, little kid, but “Blue Miracle” embraces those troupes with the same defining motivation akin to countless sports biopics. The tournament aspect of the narrative is compelling, and you’ll probably find yourself rooting for these kids because we know what’s at stake. Hard to dislike a film that‘s heart is in the right place despite some cheesy dramatization throwing a wrench in the fishing line.
BLUE MIRACLE debuts on Netflix Thursday, May 27th