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Fishing for a living

In Blue Miracle, orphan boys and a gruff fisherman become unlikely partners in a fishing competition


Carlos Rodriguez/Netflix

Fishing for a living

Blue Miracle, recently released on Netflix, is a fish tale based on a true story. Whether or not rods and reels rock your world, you and the whole family will enjoy this catch.

Rated PG for intense action and occasional crude slang, the film follows Omar Venegas (Jimmy Gonzales), who with his wife Becca (Fernanda Urrejola) runs an orphanage for boys in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. But the orphanage, Casa Hogar, is not so beautiful. It’s in dire need of repairs, especially after Hurricane Odile sweeps through. It’s also in debt to the bank for $117,000.

Desperate times call for unusual measures. Every year, Cabo hosts Brisbee’s Black and Blue, a blue marlin fishing tournament—the biggest in the world—awarding huge cash prizes. But this year, because of the hurricane, many international competitors have bailed. So the host opens the tourney to local fishermen. Through odd circumstances, Papa Omar—as he’s affectionately known by his boys—and the orphanage enter the competition. None of the boys has ever fished before.

You may have already seen this plot play out before, on a football field or basketball court instead of an ocean, but these underdogs are still worth watching. I only wish the film had offered more backstory on the orphans. We see only glimpses of why they wound up homeless.

The genuine compassion of Omar for the street kids—one of whom he used to be—and the way he embraces all the boys and their quirks and fears, keeps you hoping for a happy outcome. Each subplot, though embellished, grabs viewers, too.

There’s the grizzled, gruff, washed-up Capt. Wade (Dennis Quaid) who takes Omar and the boys aboard his dirty, decrepit fishing boat. He’s abandoned his wife and son for the last five years, mistakenly believing that by catching prize-winning fish his family will esteem him as a great man. One of the boys calls him out: “A fishing trophy? We all lost our dads for stupid reasons—bullets, drugs, prison. But right now, I’m feeling kinda lucky compared to your son.”

Gradually, the captain starts thinking less about winning prizes and more about the kids. After he brags about the scar on his leg from fighting a marlin, he quiets when the boys laugh and start comparing their own scars—from abusive adults in their lives.

Each boy has difficulties to overcome. Omar is determined to help them: He encourages one boy, Tweety, to write down his problems and nail them to a door, giving them to God. The nail becomes symbolic throughout the movie, including when Omar finally hurls it into the sea.

Omar faces his own hard choices about the orphanage. One of those decisions is as life-changing as winning the prize money would be.


Sharon Dierberger

Sharon is a correspondent and reviewer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University graduate. She has served as a university teacher, clinical exercise physiologist, homeschooling mom, businesswoman, and Division 1 athlete. She resides in Stillwater, Minn., with her husband, Bill.

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