“Blue Miracle” is based on the true, headline-making story of an amateur Mexican team who won the world’s richest fishing tournament in 2014, Julio Quintana’s likable family film misses nary a cornball trick in Hollywood’s underdog-drama playbook and just about pulls it off. Centered on a group of Latino kids from underprivileged backgrounds, the arc follows them surpassing expectations as they try to win a fishing competition. The prospective cash earnings, as is customary in these types of setups, will benefit a noble cause.
It stars Dennis Quaid as Wade, a drunk and grumpy fisherman, and Jimmy Gonzales as Omar, the caring owner of the orphanage, who all the kids call “Papa Omar.” And while the film has all the makings of something that could easily be overly saccharine because it’s so predictable, Blue Miracle manages to be a rather charming family-friendly affair.
That “Blue Miracle” succeeds to the extent it does is in large part thanks to starring Jimmy Gonzales, hitherto best known for TV roles in “Lodge 49” and “Mayans M.C.,” here proving himself a leading man of quiet, sturdy integrity. As Venegas, Gonzales is sufficiently terrific to make you wish the character had been written as the fully dimensional human he presumably is, rather than as a terrestrial saint in cargo shorts: Venegas’ through-and-through goodness is apparent enough without the repeated moral pep talks the script keeps handing him for backup, though Gonzales delivers them with genuinely heroic conviction. He’s honey to the vinegar of Dennis Quaid, cast in the largely devised role of the crusty gringo fishing captain who shows the team the ropes and reels. This of all stories hardly needs a white savior figure, but Quaid’s flinty dynamic with Gonzales lends some texture to this soft, sentimental tale.
Quaid brings his most lovable crustiness to his portrayal of Wade in “Blue Miracle,” his world-weary sarcasm helping to keep the proceedings from getting too gooey. Working from a script he co-wrote with Chris Dowling, Quintana does a swift and efficient job of setting up the story and its stakes. True to its title, “Blue Miracle” is bathed in lovely shades of turquoise, aquamarine, and cerulean. A protege of Terrence Malick, Quintana possesses a sharp eye for color and pictorial beauty, even amid the least glamorous precincts of a city known for its spectacular hotels and influx of moneyed celebrities.
The main moments of conflict involve Wade letting go of his own past mistakes, finding a connection with the kids, and winning the competition the right way. It’s all back and forth with will they win the tournament, can they keep the home, can they all pull it together as a unit. Mixed within the subtext are subtle hints at a religious viewpoint, where Omar expresses the importance of his faith, having something to guide him. That’s not bad in the approach, and I appreciated it not being hammered on the head, but it’s also not enough to leave a mark. The main point is the kids growing in this competition and the adults learning something along the way. If you could imagine, the majority of Blue Miracle is quite predictable. If any of this would have resulted in a good movie, that would have been the biggest miracle of them all.
Final Score – [5.7/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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