“DOLPHIN TALE” (Nathan Gamble, Winter, Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd & Morgan Freeman)
The ONLY complaint I have about this film is that it plays the handicapped card to death – but what is more sympathetic than a wounded soldier and a little wheel chair bound girl with one leg? Well, for one thing, a dolphin that had to have its injured tail amputated, & this movie throws them all into the mix in a tearjerker extravaganza.
Harry Connick, Jr. & Ashley Judd were previously matched in the bizarrely interesting “Bug” – THAT was not a family-friendly flick – “Dolphin Tale” is SO family friendly it should have a rating that insists no one Over the age of 17 not be admitted without a child in tow.
Nathan Gamble plays Sawyer, a fatherless boy that looks up to his swimming champion cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell) When Kyle joins the army and is sent overseas, Sawyer retracts into his room – venturing out only to take a summer school class.
Sawyer’s life changes dramatically when a man on the beach calls to him and asks if he has a cell phone. Sawyer sees that the man has found a beached dolphin tangled in the ropes of a crab trap. Using the Swiss army knife that Kyle gave him, Sawyer does the best he can to free the dying creature. When the sea animal rescue squad shows up to take the dolphin to their compound, Sawyer tracks down their location to see if the dolphin survived.
Befriended by Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) the daughter of the doctor that runs the facility, Sawyer is invited to join the crew when it becomes obvious that Winter (the dolphin) responds positively when Sawyer is nearby – recognizing him as the one that cut her free of the crab trap.
Other than Morgan Freeman, as Dr. McCarthy, a physician who specializes in prosthetics, “Dolphin Tale” doesn’t have a single impressive actor – Ashley Judd is given little to do as Lorraine, Sawyer’s mom and Rufus, the pelican that provides the comic relief from all the drama succeeds mainly due to his goofy appearance rather than his acting abilities.
Harry Connick, Jr. as Dr. Clay Haskett doesn’t have to act – In fact no one has to as it’s the dolphin that makes this film special.
This is one of those films that if you don’t enjoy it, you’d better go have an EKG examination because you may not have a heart. The only ‘bad guy’ is the unseen billionaire that wants to buy the compound & turn it into something profitable. But that dilemma always seems to be on the backburner as Winter’s survival is everyone’s major concern.
Now that I think of it - there are two rather sexually explicit scenes involving Sawyer & Winter - but it's consentual, so I guess that keeps it 'family' friendly...
A sweet, touching, emotional film – I had to keep flicking tears out of the corners of my eyes, which is very troublesome for me since my father was one of those macho guys that couldn’t stand cry babies. But something tells me even the old man would have had a hard time keeping his eyes dry during this charming ‘tale’ of an innocent & adorable ‘fish’ (as Dr. McCarthy keeps mis-labeling Winter) that has to learn how to swim with a prosthetic tail or be put out her misery.
I just hope Hootie isn’t in the theatre when you see ‘cause he’s gonna be bawling his head off...