Three California gray whales trapped in Alaskan pack ice above the Arctic Circle capture the attention of news networks, and the resulting media circus rivets the attention of the world on efforts to free the whales and help them reach the open sea. Based on a real story in 1988 (once called “the world’s greatest non-event”), there’s the makings here of a savage satire on media excess and TV news hype. Instead, predictably, director Ken Kwapis and writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler (adapting Thomas Rose’s book Saving the Whales) go for cute and heartwarming, mixing the facts with generous helpings of lighthearted fiction. The result, though overlong, gets the job done if Hollywood uplift is what you’re looking for. John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson and Dermot Mulroney star. J.L.