DOLPHIN TALE. Starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr, Nathan Gamble and Kris Kristofferson. Directed by Charles Martin Smith. 113 minutes. Rated PG (Mild themes and infrequent coarse language).
This is an enjoyable story, based on actual events. It could also be called Dolphin Tail, the focus of the drama in the film.
This is one of those films that can be recommended to parents and families. Not only is it designed to be suitable for all ages (though apparently it has a PG rating because of the treatment of the dolphin in trying to attach its prosthetic tale), it actually is encouraging for children to get an interest in life, something which engages their energies beyond sitting in front of a screen or playing video games, as the young boy’s mother tells his teacher, engaging with ‘something real’. With its focus on dolphins and caring for them as well as being creative with them, it entertains as well as inspires.
The setting is Florida, an aquarium that also serves as a hospital for injured sea creatures. Harry Connick Jr is the genial director. Morgan Freeman appears as a designer and maker of prosthetic limbs for wounded veterans who is asked to try to create a tail for the dolphin, Winter, who was caught in a crab trap and whose tail had to be amputated. At the centre of the film, besides Winter, is Sawyer, an 11 year old boy, played very well and unassumingly by Nathan Gamble. Children can identify with film easily - and parents will approve of him. He freed Winter and the dolphin responds better to him than many others. His mother here is played by Ashley Judd. And there is Kris Kristofferson as a rugged but genial grandfather. In her first film, Cozi Zuehlsdorff is full of verve as Connick’s daughter.
Besides the rehabilitation of Winter and the blossoming of Sawyer, there are some sub-plots (not a romantic one that we might have anticipated). There is another with a wounded veteran affected bitterly by his injuries but being inspired to choose something more for his life. But, as in this kind of story, the centre is stuck for funding and has to be sold to make way for a hotel. But...
Filmed in quite unobtrusive 3D, which is especially effective for some underwater sequences, the film is a pleasing entertainment.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out December 15, 2011.