Dolphin Tale (Rated PG)
Starring Nathan Gamble, Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Plot: A dolphin must learn to survive after losing her tail in a crab trap.
We live in an age where it’s rare to find an animal movie that doesn’t have the animals talking and spouting off one-liners voiced by comedians and/or Hollywood stars. I think the absence of talking animals was what appealed to me most about Dolphin Tale – well, that and a trailer the pretty much caused me to choke up every time I watched it for nearly six months.
Dolphin Tale is based on a true story. Winter is real and plays herself in the movie. You can log on to seewinter.com and catch her in a live webcam. Her story is absolutely amazing in its own right. Winter was caught in a crab trap and the blood circulation was cut off from her fluke for so long, they had no choice but to remove it. This should have been a death sentence for winter, but she fought back and with the help of a dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, she learned to swim without her tail. The problem? She was damaging her spine. In steps Kevin Carroll, a prosthetics designer who designs a special sleeve and a tale for Winter to help her swim correctly. Carroll’s work has gone on to benefit veterans who have lost limbs in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The movie takes this story and weaves it into an inspiring tale about a young boy, withdrawn and friendless, and his relationship with Winter and how that relationship changes them both. Alex (Nathan Gamble) finds Winter on a beach and cuts her free and gets help. Harry Connick, Jr. plays Dr. Clay, the leader of a veterinary team and the head of the Clearwater Marine Hospital. Dr. Clay has a daughter (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) Alex’s age, and the two strike up a friendship as they help Dr. Clay try to save Winter.
Both of the child actors do decent enough job, but it is the Harry Connick, Jr. and Ashley Judd (playing Alex’s mother) that bring emotional heft to the movie. Freeman plays Dr. Cameron McCarthy, a prosthetics doctor at a local VA hospital that designs Winter’s tail. Austin Stowell is also very good as a veteran who finds inspiration in Winter’s story that helps him move past his own injury.
If you didn’t know that this was a true story, it would almost feel too Hollywood to be realistic. Director Charles Martin Smith has brought together a strong ensemble to make a movie you don’t see from Hollywood much anymore – a family film that the entire family can truly enjoy. There are any “jokes” snuck in to entertain the adults that you hope go over the kids’ heads. It’s just a touching drama that will both inspire and have you leaving the theater with a smile on your face.
This movie is also showing in 3D. I saw it in standard format, so I can’t comment on how the 3D helps or hinders the story. If anyone saw it in 3D, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.
Dolphin Tale is showing in the Ames area at the Cinemark Movies 12. Opening week showings are listed bellow.
- RealD 3D – 2:00 pm, 7:30 pm, 10:15 pm
- Digital Cinema – 11:15 am, 4:50 pm
As always, showtimes are subject to change, so check Cinemark.com for current information and advanced tickets. If you live outside the Ames area, Fandango.com is a great website to check for theaters and showtimes.