All-star cast returns for more true-life dolphin aqua-drama
Dolphin Tale 2
Starring Harry Connick Jr., Cozi Zuehlsdorff & Nathan Gamble
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Critics and audiences alike cheered for the first Dolphin Tale, the story of a bottlenose dolphin rescued off the coast of Florida and custom-fitted with a prosthetic tail after tangling and mangling hers in the wires of a crab trap.
The 2011 movie was based on true events, real people, and the actual place, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where the repaired and rehabilitated sea mammal, renamed Winter, became a star attraction.
Dolphin Tale 2 continues Winter’s remarkable (true) story and reunites most of the original cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson, along with teen actors Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Nathan Gamble, and the real-life Winter. Actor-director Charles Martin Smith (watch for him as the aquarium inspector) also returns as writer-director, and surfer-celebrity Bethany Hamilton, whose left arm was infamously bitten off by a shark, makes a cameo.
Once again filming on location at the Clearwater facility, this Dolphin tale involves a new predicament for Winter—and the interplay of emotions between humans as well as other creatures, including affection, bonding, celebration, loneliness, loss, anxiety, and the bittersweet pangs of goodbye. “We don’t know if dolphins feel emotions the way we do,” notes Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), Winter’s young trainer. No, we don’t—but the movie clearly wants us to think that they might…and believe that they can.
And you will believe, as well as learn a thing or two about dolphins—like how regulations prohibit keeping a dolphin in captivity alone, without a companion, and how even the most “trained” dolphin is still a wild animal that can seriously injure a human. You’ll also understand how Winter became such an inspiration for so many real-life visitors, from kids to war veterans, who had lost a limb, or more—as one scene (and even more so, the documentary footage that runs at the end of the movie) so movingly depicts.
Children especially will enjoy the antics of couple of non-dolphin characters, a pelican and a rescued sand turtle, that become unlikely buddies. (And grownups might also pick up a message about how the heart’s gonna do what the heart’s gonna do, without letting land, sea, air, species or anything else stand in the way.)
Like its predecessor, Dolphin Tale 2 is another wholesome, family-friendly movie especially good for younger kids and tweens, and it avoids playing down to its audience, or dipping into the crude humor that often creeps into fare for even the youngest viewers (although there is a blowhole emission, which sounds like a fart, that is clearly meant to get a laugh). There are thoughtful, smart plotlines about growing up, taking responsibility, making tough decisions, sorting out the blurry lines between jealousy and affection, learning lessons in unlikely places—and the drama of waiting to see what happens to Winter when her options appear to have run out.
There’s no explosive razzle-dazzle, and no splashy special effects—but lots of real splashes, some dandy, ballet-like, below-water swimming sequences, and plenty of emotion centered around one fin-tastic dolphin, Winter, whose true tale continues to uplift and inspire.
—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine