DOLPHIN TALE 2
*** (out of 5)
September 12, 2014
Ashley Judd as LORRAINE NELSON
Morgan Freeman as DR. CAMERON MCCARTHY
Nathan Gamble as SAWYER NELSON
Cozi Zuehlsdorff as HAZEL HASKETT
Harry Connick Jr. as DR. CLAY HASKETT
Kris Kristofferson as REED HASKETT
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Okay, I have to admit up front that I wasn’t a big fan of the first “Dolphin Tale.” When that came out in 2011, I thought it was corny and cheesy and pushed the emotional buttons so deliberately that I rolled my eyes through much of the film.
Sure, it was a family film, one that was meant to touch the innate desire in children to save troubled animals. It was also based on a true story and actually starred the real-life Winter, a dolphin who lost her tail in a fishing net, requiring her to be fitted with a prosthetic one. For me, this played too close to the original story, making it impossible to have an objective portrayal of those involved.
Had I been a ten-year-old kid at the time, when my interest in marine biology and particularly dolphins was at its height, I might have loved it. But as a cynical adult who had seen too many button-pushing movies over the years, I didn’t like it that much.
But that was three years ago. Maybe I’ve softened a bit. Maybe I’ve just accepted that “Dolphin Tale” was just that kind of movie. Whatever the explanation, I thought this sequel was actually pretty decent.
That’s not to say this movie is marginally different from the first film. It’s not. In fact, with the exception of seeing actors Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff grow three years older from one film to the next, you could probably seamlessly edit the two films together. They have the exact same tone, the same cinematic look, the same cast, the same director and the same overall message.
They’re practically the same movie. Maybe with less forced cheese in this one, which is why I responded better.
“Dolphin Tale 2” continues the story of Winter, who is permanently housed at the aquarium hospital because she could never return to the wild with her prosthetic tail. She has been paired with another rescued dolphin, which helps their recovery. However, when that other dolphin dies suddenly of old age, Winter’s human family has to find a new companion for her, or the USDA will confiscate her.
I’m not sure how much of the film reflect true events, or if is a manufactured conflict that wraps itself around real-life rescues from the aquarium hospital. The real-life video footage of events from the film shown during the ending credits (which was also done in the first film) demonstrate that these are real rescues. However, I get the feeling that the story has been forced in there to make the dramatic tension work in the film.
I’m okay with that. It is a movie, after all. You have to have a conflict for the plot to work.
“Dolphin Tale 2” is a well-made film, and it offers plenty of beauty shots of the dolphins swimming and interacting with their human counterparts. Yes, it gets corny at times, and it does try to juggle too many subplots that you lose track of whose movie it is. (For example, is it about Sawyer growing up, or is it about Winter needing a new companion, or is it about the father trying to keep the aquarium afloat?)
However, this is all forgivable in the family-friendly context. “Dolphin Tale 2” is not a kiddie film with annoying animated character, and it gives a chance for some family viewing that the adults can appreciate as well.