The Port Arthur News
The new live action family movie, “Dolphin Tale” may be a bit too saccharine and a bit too simplistic for my personal tastes, but I won’t deny that it’s an effective family drama that will have you cheering on the film’s pint-sized heroes and marveling at the dolphin named Winter who’s at the center of this story. I mean, I’ve never met anybody who didn’t like dolphins, and most people absolutely love them. With that in mind, I suspect that most people will love “Dolphin Tale.”
The film is based on the true-life story of a dolphin that washes up on a Florida beach after getting its tail stuck in a crab trap. An 11-year-old boy named Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) helps rescue the dolphin, but things look bleak when doctors have to amputate its tail at the marine hospital. The dolphin, now named Winter, can’t swim without a tail, or at least not correctly, so a quirky prosthetics doctor from a nearby V.A. Hospital (Morgan Freeman) comes into the picture and designs an artificial tale for the dolphin.
If that wasn’t based on a true story, I’d have a hard time believing it, but the proof is right up on the big screen in the form of Winter, the actual dolphin that lost its tail, recovered from the injury, and is now the star of this movie. Actually, the stars of this movie are the two kids who drive the plot (Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and despite the presence of some major movie stars in supporting roles, it’s the two child actors who capably anchor the story without falling into melodramatics. That’s no small feat when you’re acting against big screen talents like Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Frances Sternhagen and Kris Kistofferson
The screenplay isn’t quite as effective as the acting, as it throws so many subplots into the mix that have convenient resolutions that it’s hard to take them seriously at times. Everything wraps up with a happy ending, which is fine for simplistic kiddy dramas, but mom and dad may be a little more jaded and thus less impressed.
Still, the movie’s themes of kids being able to affect change in their world coupled with a pro-education message and the solid acting from the cast make “Dolphin Tale” into a real winner. I don’t think that there’s enough spectacle in the movie to justify the extra cost of a 3D ticket, but for a good old-fashioned family drama, you should flock to this fun fish flick.
Especially if you love dolphins.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.