Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Dolphin Tale (2011) ***

PG, 113 min.
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writers: Karen Janszen, Noam Dromi
Starring: Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, Austin Stowell

“Dolphin Tale” is an innocuous family film. I suppose that’s not exactly the strongest compliment that you can throw at a movie, but there it is. There isn’t much to find offense with in the film. It tells the true story of Winter, a dolphin who was found on the coast of Florida wrapped up in a crab trap.  This is a tale of an unlikely survival.

Winter’s wounds were so severe, her tail had to be amputated. She plays herself in the movie, so you can assure your children there will be a happy ending. Sawyer is the boy who found her, and this is his story too. His father left him and his mother several years prior, and Saywer still struggles to cope with this development. On top of that his cousin and surrogate brother/father is being deployed to the Middle East. His family worries that Sawyer will disappear into himself, until he discovers Winter.

The adults, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman, offer some good support for the dolphin and the kids. Sawyer meets a girl at the Marine Hospital. We learn that Winter will die from her wounds even though her tail has been amputated and she’s learned to swim with what’s left. In order to save her they must develop a prosthetic tail, and she needs to accept it. Also, there’s a subplot that the story could’ve done without even if it was true about a land developer who buys the hospital to make room for yet another hotel.

The film has some fairly shoddy special effects that were created mostly for the shoddy 3D effects of its original theatrical release format. I’m not sure who thought that this was a story that needed to be told in 3D. I hope they’re looking for a new job; but since the choice was probably purely financial, he probably got a promotion.

The movie espouses great family ideals and acts as a great story of survival for amputees and others with physical disabilities. “Dolphin Tale” is a good movie to watch with your children. My kids liked it just fine, even without 3D.

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