Karmic forces dictate that miracles can only happen after one seemingly unsurmountable challenge after another. In Blue Miracle, a storm floods a Cabo San Lucas orphanage, Casa Hogar. As an aside, it’s pretty interesting to watch a film about Mexico that doesn’t have a desert-like palette. And it’s also interesting to see a Cabo that’s different from the one in Laguna Beach. Anyway, Hogar already has debt and the flood isn’t going to help them. A deus ex machina, however, appears when they borrow a pump from the Bisbee fishing tournament office.
This gets the orphans to run into a cantankerous competitive marlin fisherman, Captain Wade Malloy (Dennis Quaid). Down on his luck, Wade desperately wants to have another shot at a trophy, which the office is reluctant to give him. But the office has the idea to team Wade up with Hogar for a quid pro quo. As another aside, the character designs here are a balancing act. There’s a hint that Wade is an alcoholic racist but the film only shows one of those character traits. On the other hand, the guy running Hogar, Omar (Jimmy Gonzales), is tough but kind.
Blue Miracle divides itself into four acts. The film sets up its premise during the first act, and the other three are basically three three days of the tournament. In fairness, the film has enough things going on during the latter three acts. In those acts, one character or another complicates Omar and Wade’s goals. There’s also enough downtime within the acts to make it seem like an organic set of events. This is better than many films that seem to have tunnel vision, plot wise.
But here’s the thing – that downtime also shows how much the film relies on its references. If director Julio Quintana’s earlier work feels too Biblical, the references here are either cinematic or literary in the most obvious ways. Of course this movie has a scene where the adults and kids compare scars a la Jaws. The film’s climactic scene involves an orphan catching a big fish. But of course, two other orphans, Geco (Anthony Gonzales) and Moco (Miguel Angel Garcia) do something for that marlin to get away. Because the movie can’t end in 50 minutes.
Blue Miracle by the way, gets its story from real events, which are probably more interesting than the fake tension in this dramatization. It has some good performances though. It’s unfortunate, though, that the script makes both leads so inconsistent. Omar starts out as the cynical realist and with Wade as a dreamer and then they switch opinion an hour into the film. Also, as Omar, Gonzales knows how to get empathy out of both Wade and the viewers without seeming manipulative. He basically embodies the plight of people of color not to talk about bad things for fear of coming off too strongly.
Gonzales also seems to have a better handle on empathy that the script does. Because the script uses that emotion to fuel contrivances that feel both Rube Goldberg-y and predictable. Omar’s plea for Wade to actually try to win gets the latter to do something stupid. But of course his stupid plans have no place here because the film prefers its feel good aura over anything else. And no, I’m not the kind to crush a child’s dreams but Omar and Hogar’s orphan characters deserve believable plot arcs.
- Release Date: 5/27/2021