My wife and I took our 3 kids to watch this beautiful, uplifting movie this past weekend and had the most wonderful time. When the movie ended, the audience broke out in spontaneous applause, that's how much this movie affected all of us. Dolphin Tale is the story of overcoming the odds, of love between family and love among friends, and of courage and resilience.
Set in Clearwater, Florida and inspired by a true story (yes, there is a real Winter the Dolphin!), the story centers on a young boy Sawyer (Nathan Gamble in a finely nuanced performance) who is portrayed as being despondent at the beginning of the movie - he is sad that his cousin,Kyle (Austin Stowell) a champion swimmer is going away to serve the country as a soldier. Kyle is Sawyer's role model and mentor, and the closest thing he has to a 'dad' figure given his own father left the family when he was very young. Sawyer's mom, Lorraine (Ashely Judd) tries her best to cope and provide for Sawyer, but she can't seem to bring Sawyer out of his doldrums. Sawyer is also very unhappy that he has to attend summer school, but something happens to change the way Sawyer views life.
One day, Sawyer comes across a stranded, injured dolphin and the amazing journey begins...soon enough, Sawyer is volunteering at the Clearwater Marine Rescue facility, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick, Jr.), and the young boy finally sees a reason to be enthusiastic about life. He befriends Clay's young daughter, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and forms a close bond with Winter the dolphin. Unfortunately, the marine facility is in financial trouble and faces the threat of being bought out by a developer. Added to this is the sad fact that Winter, having lost her tail, may eventually face paralysis. Morgan Freeman plays a doctor who designs prosthetics for injured war vets, and whose unwavering perseverance plays a prominent role in the movie.
There's something in this movie that captures the imagination and interest of both children and adults. The antics of the dolphin, and the children's interactions between themselves and the dolphin will keep young children entertained and older children engaged. The riveting storyline, and the tension and drama keep the adults engaged as well. This truly falls into the category of "family entertainment". We did not watch it in 3D, but loved the movie all the same. Another friend who did watch it in 3D enjoyed the extra effects, so we might go back and watch it again. I will certainly be purchasing the DVD when it is released and adding it to our home DVD library.
The messages in this movie are timely and evergreen - of resilience, hope, love, overcoming the odds, and of course, conservation. You can learn more about the real Winter at seewinterdotcom.Enjoy!