Dolphin Tale
Summer is typically a time when most kids to take a break from school and have some fun going on vacation or hanging with friends. Sawyer isn’t like most kids, however. Stuck in summer school, he takes a detour by the beach one day and happens upon dolphin caught in a fisherman’s trap. While the dolphin is taken to a nearby rescue center, they were unfortunately unable to save its tail. Struggling to survive, the dolphin develops a special bond with Sawyer and gives him one unforgettable summer.
Dolphin Tale is based on the true story of Winter, a rescued bottlenose dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap. Without their tail, a dolphin cannot survive. Sawyer and his new friends at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium decide to take a chance and build a prosthetic tail for the first time ever.  Will it be enough to save Winter, or is just a final attempt at prolonging the inevitable?
With a stellar cast consisting of Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Kris Kristofferson, and the Morgan Freeman, you’d expect quite a tale, right? While Morgan Freeman clearly delivers as the quirky Dr. McCarthy, the developer of the prosthetic, almost everyone else fails to live up to expectations. Many of the scenes simply fall flat and don’t provide you with that emotional bond you’d want out of a film like this. It attempts to make a connection with the side story of Kyle, a champion swimmer who joined the military only to become confined to a wheelchair soon after. It fits nicely alongside Winter’s experience but doesn’t get much farther off the ground than that.
All is not lost, though, as Nathan Gamble (Sawyer) and Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Hazel) have an excellent dynamic on screen together. While Sawyer is shy and introverted, Hazel is that one little girl who will walk up to anyone and just start talking. The two are perfect complements of each other and almost every scene they’re in will bring a smile to you face. I have no doubt we’ll be seeing more of Zuehlsdorff in films to come.
The real Winter also plays herself in the film so it’s great to see that element of the true story depicted on screen. It’d be interesting to see the filming process as you can’t help but love Winter’s antics and charm. Missing tail or not, this is one dolphin that doesn’t let her disability get in the way. Dolphin lovers, you won’t be disappointed.
Dolphin Tale has its moments but ultimately doesn’t leave a lasting impression on the audience. If anything, the real life footage shown during the credits is the most powerful part of the film. It’s definitely an interesting story, it just could have worked better as a documentary.
Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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