Netflix’s new film “Blue Miracle” is one those ‘based on a true story’ family dramas that never strays from its well-worn formula. Nothing catches you by surprise and from its earliest moments you know exactly how things are going to turn out. Yet, the movie works because it succeeds where it counts the most – it makes us care and from its opening scene we are given characters we can root for.
“Blue Miracle” is directed by Julio Quintana who also co-wrote the script with Chris Dowling. The story is set seven years ago in Cabo San Lucas. Jimmy Gonzales stars as Omar, a former street kid who now runs a orphanage with his wife Becca (Fernanda Urrejola). The affectionately named Casa Hogar houses a dozen or so boys rescued from the streets and is ran on private donations. But times are hard and Omar has recently lost several of his donors putting him behind on his payments to the bank. If he doesn’t come up with $117,000 in thirty days he’ll lose the building and the kids will end up back on the street.
Down at the docks, Dennis Quaid plays a salty gringo fisherman named Wade Malloy. He’s a two-time winner of the renowned Black & Blue Fishing Tournament which kicks off in a few days. The problem is Wade has hit a rough patch of his own and he can’t afford the entry fee. The tourney’s promoter Wayne Bisbee (Bruce McGill) has a soft spot for Omar so he makes a deal with Wade – he’ll waive the entry fee if Wade partners with Omar and some of his boys. It’s a desperate move for Omar, but if they somehow manage to win their share of the prize money should be enough to pay off the bank.
So the crusty captain and his inexperienced crew head out on Wade’s beat-up tub for three days of fishing. Predictably the story plays out to a series of close-calls, conflicts, and the inevitable relationship building. The seasoned gravelly-voiced Quaid is a lot of fun playing a crusty curmudgeon with a lot of personal baggage. But it’s Gonzales who really owns the movie, portraying Omar with heart and integrity. And even with the occasional hokey pep talk his performance remains grounded and honest. The kids offer fresh and energetic young faces but unfortunately play more as types than fleshed out characters.
As you make your way through “Blue Miracle” you can’t help but notice its glaring predictability, the smattering of cheesy dialogue, and the clear-cut formula it borrows from countless other movies of its kind. Yet through it all the feel-good vibe is strong enough and the characters are likable enough to leave you rooting for this ragtag motley crew. It makes for a warm and wholesome underdog story that effectively tugs at your heartstrings even as you see it doing the yanking. “Blue Miracle” is now streaming on Netflix.