‘Blue Miracle’ Review: A Real-Life Underdog Triumph Becomes a Wholesomely Hokey Family Film – What's new drama?

‘Blue Miracle’ Review: A Real-Life Underdog Triumph Becomes a Wholesomely Hokey Family Film



Blue Miracle

Many a chef will tell you that fish and cheese don’t go together, but “Blue Miracle” says otherwise. 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.

Viewers can see precisely where Quintana and co-writer Chris Dowling have embellished the saga of Cabo orphanage proprietor Omar Venegas, who led a handful of his teenage wards to that unlikely victory: “Blue Miracle” is awash with eleventh-hour peril and contrivance, reducing characters to stock figures to make plain sailing of its crowd-pleasing narrative. Audiences are unlikely to mind as they discover the film on Netflix: It’s a processed fish stick rather than a blue marlin steak, but it fills you up just the same.

Streamlined and simplified as they are, the film’s two adult leads have clear agency and film-driving personality. Their younger cohorts, though appealingly cast, are a little more lost in the mix, with characterizations that extend to single, contrasting adjectives: the smart one, the snarky one, the brooding one, and so on. (The wholly English-language dialogue, peppered only with light interjections of Spanish slang, contributes to the uniformity.) “Blue Miracle” introduces Venegas and his wife Becca (an anemic role for “Narcos: Mexico” star Fernanda Urrejola) as surrogate parents to a couple dozen orphaned and/or troubled Mexican boys, rescued from the Cabo streets and integrated into one chaotically happy family at their modest institution, Casa Hogar.

But “Papa Omar,” as the kids call him, can’t run the shelter on his benevolence alone: Funds are low, debt is high, and the bank is threatening to take the roof from over their heads. What can they do but enter Bisbee’s Black & Blue Fishing Tournament, held annually in Cabo, where prize money tops a quarter of a million dollars for the largest catch? That solution might sound like a desperate screenwriter’s last resort, but it’s no flight of fancy. The lucrative event does indeed exist, and Venegas, along with a crew of Casa Hogar orphans, did indeed enter it to raise funds, despite never having fished before — taking advantage of unusual circumstances that saw the tournament waive its usually prohibitive entry fee.