Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Netflix Mail Day Movie Review: "Dolphin Tale" (2011)

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Movie"Dolphin Tale"
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is an introverted young man who does poorly in school and has no friends. Since he has failed his classes, he is forced to go to summer school. One morning on the way to school, Sawyer is flagged down by a local fisherman who spotted a dolphin tangled in a crab trap. Sawyer lends the man his phone and uses his swiss army knife to help cut the ropes off the dolphin. The dolphin is rescued by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Hospital. The next day, Sawyer skips school and sneaks into the aquarium where he meets Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) whose father, Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.), is the doctor caring for the dolphin Hazel has now named Winter. Dr. Haskett usually doesn't like non-staff near the sick animals, but Sawyer seems to have a connection with Winter since he was the one who cut her free in the first place. Whenever Sawyer is around, Winter is much more cooperative and becomes more willing to eat and for once, Sawyer is happy with his life and is making friends. Unfortunately, the accident caused Winter to lose her tail. In an effort to save her life, Sawyer gets the idea to try and make the first prosthetic tail for a dolphin with the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman). 

Sometimes, BigJ and I are apprehensive about seeing kids movies being that we don't have any children of our own. Is it weird for an adult couple to see a kids movie alone? I'm sure we've mentioned it before on this blog, but we're really big ol' kids at heart, so that apprehension goes away most of the time. I'm not sure why we resisted the idea of watching "Dolphin Tale" for so long, but we did. Finally, we got a chance to sit down and watch it, and we found that we actually enjoyed it quite a bit! It's one of those feel good family movies with a great underlying message. The entire movie is based on a true story, which is makes it that much more compelling of, though obvious dramatic license has been taken with some of the events. There really is a dolphin named Winter who lost her tale and needed a prosthetic one, and you can even see her live via webcam at Most of the subplots, including Sawyer's need to go to summer school, his cousin who went to war and came back injured, the financial troubles and sale of the marine aquarium, etc, we could have done without and were all there to serve as dramatic emphasis. To us, these subplots hindered the film a bit, especially given that it was almost 2 hours long and it didn't really need to be. The true compelling aspect, for us at least, was Winter herself. The fact that this creature overcame losing its tail, accepted a new prosthetic one and relearned how to swim with it is a stunning testament to her ability and mind capacity, as well a testament to the ingenuity of the doctor(s in real life) who built the tail. There are a couple of obvious CGI'ed moments in the film, and there seems to be a mix of both CGI and real life dolphin scenes throughout the film. Also, there are a couple of overly corny parts, like the pesky pelican that was obviously added for children's comedic relief, but the movie overall is a decent one for people of all ages.

The ending portion of the movie, especially when children from around the country of all dis/abilities wanted to see, to help, to donate, and to support Winter because she was "just like them," I must admit, it made me cry a little bit. Kids who are deemed "different" by our society's stupid and self-imposed standards can watch this film and know that they are perfect the way they are. This movie will satisfy the inner child in all of us. It's a very sweet tale based on true events with a lot of heart, though rather predictable. You'd have to be a pretty big Grinch to not be touched by a story this inspiring.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 82%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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