For the first time ever, my wife, my daughter, and I went to a movie theater together. Usually, it’s the daughter and I, or the wife and I. On Columbus Day, we all went to the neighborhood cinema, the Madison, to see Dolphin Tale.
It could have been called Dolphin Tail. From Rotten Tomatoes: “Dolphin Tale is inspired by the amazing true story of a brave dolphin and the compassionate strangers who banded together to save her life. Swimming free, a young dolphin is caught in a crab trap, severely damaging her tail.”
I was surprised to discover that it turned out to be a good movie. Not a great one, but one where I was willing to be taken in by young Sawyer Haskell (Nathan Gamble), disaffected at school but with a peculiar connection with the mammal he helped to save. He ends up being a regular at the sanctuary where the dolphin was being treated, without the knowledge of his mother (Ashley Judd). Clearwater Marine Hospital is run by marine biologist Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) with the assistance of his staff; his wise father Reed (Kris Kristofferson) tries to let his son do things his way. Morgan Freeman shows up about halfway through the film in a critical role.
Yes, it’s a message film, where Sawyer, along with Clay’s daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff), shows the grown-ups that they ought not to give up too easily, even after bad weather and worse finances. And at 1:52, it was about 15 minutes too long. But it was inspirational in the end, and it’s the kind of movie one can take a child 1) without being mortified by what’s on the screen and 2) without being bored to death.
I liked it, and my wife and daughter, probably more so.