MOVIE REVIEW: Dolphin Tale 2

How can Sawyer go when the dolphin Winter’s status at the hospital is still in doubt?

Dolphin_Tale_2One of the useful functions of the blog is that it helps me remind me of events. In this case, it was Columbus Day weekend three years ago when The Daughter, The wife and I saw the movie Dolphin Tale, the first theatrical film the three of us ever saw all together. I liked it; the Daughter was even more fond.

The Daughter really wanted to see the sequel, the cleverly-named Dolphin Tale 2. We trekked to Colonie Center near Albany on a Sunday afternoon to whatever chain theater is out there to discover an annoying fact: 3 p.m. is the demarcation line for matinee prices, and it was the 4 p.m. showing we wanted to see. So it goes.

The plot is that Winter, the dolphin with the artificial tail, who has become a big hit at the facility where she lives, has an aging playmate. What happens when the older creature dies? USDA regulations require that marine mammals have a companion. Another dolphin is rescued. Why can’t this be the solution?

Dolphin Tale 2 is…nice. I’m not sure I would have known who all the human characters were, and their relationships had I not seen the first film. Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble), the young man who first found Winter in the last film, is still working at Clearwater Marine Hospital. The facility is headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.), and assisted by a number of attractive young adults, plus his now teenaged daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff). Loraine Nelson (Ashley Judd) is trying to get her son Sawyer to decide on an incredible educational opportunity, but how can he go when Winter’s status at the hospital is still in doubt? Dr. Clay has to make tough decisions, with his dad Reed (Kris Kristofferson) lending support. Can Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) save the day again?

Any real drama in the movie takes place in the last third of the film. However, I did enjoy the ethical dilemma Dr. Haskett found himself in during the middle of the narrative. Also present in a cameo is Bethany Hamilton, a noted surfer, who came to national attention after her left arm was bitten off by a tiger shark back in 2003.

If you have an 8 to 14-year-old who wants to see it, I recommend renting the first movie and watching it, for it is the stronger film. THEN watch this one.

Movie Review: Dolphin Tale

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.

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