I missed this whale of a movie (har har) the first time around, but our local theater plays a cheap kids/family movie each week, and a few weeks ago they played Big Miracle. My mom, who also missed the movie the first time around, had wanted to see it, so we made a mother daughter day out of the thing.
I admit, I had some trepidation about the movie. This was, primarily, because Drew Barrymore's character seemed so grating in the trailers. As it went, her character was certainly on the irritating side but at least did have more depth (and, for that matter, more purposeful flaws) than the trailers let on.
I don't have much to say about how the movie was filmed. The direction was fairly standard. The cinematography wasn't distracting, but it wasn't particularly memorable either. What did surprise (and frankly, impress) me was the writing and characterization. I found it frankly refreshing that each character acted for his or her own benefit or agenda, rather than on the behalf of the whales. That may sound cynical, but it certainly gave the (based on a true story) film a more realistic feel. By the end of the movie, even characters who had antagonized each other terribly became genuine, if temporary, allies--and that much, even the cynic in me let me buy.
Regardless, the decision to make sure each character had his or her own set of motivations--and each character used them to get his or her way--kept the story from spiraling into the sappy, feel-good whale movie of the year it could have been.