MOVIE "Blue Miracle"
WHERE Streaming on Netflix
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The true story of a team from the Cabo San Lucas, Mexico-based Casa Hogar Orphange competing in the 2014 Bisbee's Black & Blue Fishing Tournament becomes fodder for the inspirational sports movie "Blue Miracle."
Jimmy Gonzalez plays Omar, who runs the cash-strapped orphanage with his wife Becca (Fernanda Urrejola), and teams with grizzled two-time champion Wade (Dennis Quaid) along with some of the Casa Hogar boys for the three-day competition, where the biggest catch wins a big enough prize to pay off some sizable debts.
MY SAY "Blue Miracle" might not be a Disney movie, but anyone familiar with the studio's template for feel-good sports-based entertainment will know exactly what to expect from every frame.
All the familiar standards are here: the cast of underdogs, led by a washed-up veteran whose best days are behind him; the touches of divine intervention; the crushing disappointment and last-minute dramatics.
It's painstakingly predictable and unabashedly sincere. There are allusions made to the difficult lives the boys lived before becoming part of the Casa Hogar family, flashbacks to past traumas and even one shot depicting street violence. But there's relatively little room for realism.
That's because the most important action takes place on the fishing boat, which serves as a useful reminder for why there are relatively few movies about fishing: it's not the most scintillating of cinematic sports.
The characters spend most of the three-day tournament bored out of their minds, sitting on Quaid's tiny vessel, rocking in the waves, desperately waiting for something to happen.
It's a classic screenwriting challenge: by confining more than half the movie to a singular setting with relatively little of consequence happening to move the plot forward during that time, Quintana and co-writer Chris Dowling have nowhere to hide.
The only path forward is through a compelling cast of characters generating enough interpersonal drama to sustain things as everyone just sits around.
The kids, including Geco (Anthony Gonzalez), Hollywood (Nathan Arenas) and Moco (Miguel Angel Garcia), are not developed beyond singular character traits.
Jimmy Gonzalez's Omar is such a kindhearted do-gooder that he starts to feel less like a real person than an idealized fiction. The filmmakers recognize the need to complicate the picture: there are references to his difficult past, including some criminal activity.
One of the better scenes in the movie is laced with a hint of menace, as it finds Omar at a bar with Hector (Raymond Cruz, of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" fame), an acquaintance from those earlier years.
But "Blue Miracle" is too constrained by its formula to go beyond that.
And no matter how much Quaid chews the scenery, with his husky voice, no-nonsense demeanor and general crabbiness, it's still not enough to distract from the reality that there are many more exciting things to do in a day than to watch people fish.
BOTTOM LINE There have not been many movies made about fishing for a reason: it's boring.