Sometimes all it takes to make a good movie is a good story. And Winter the dolphin has a good story. Granted, Dolphin’s Tale takes a few liberties in telling it, but the film succeeds in creating an uplifting experience.
Winter is something of a celebrity in Florida. She was found on the shore in 2006 with her tail caught in a crab trap. Volunteers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium nursed her back to health following the amputation of her entire tail. Determined to survive and swim again, Winter became the first dolphin to successfully use prosthetic tail.
The Hollywood version of the story brings a cute 11-year-old into the story. Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) is presented as a loner who helps find Winter and forms a bond with her. His experience with Winter teaches him about friendship and responsibility.
Sawyer’s storyline is touching, but at times it feels contrived. Also, the film gives Sawyer a lot of responsibility for Winter’s survival, when more credit should be paid to those who were actually involved.
That said, Dolphin’s Tale is a well-written, entertaining family film. It’s best to just let go and allow the film to work its magic. The flick is wholesome, well-meaning and inspirational. It’s difficult to leave the theater with dry eyes.
Dolphin’s Tale also boasts solid performances from its cast of newbies and veterans. Gamble is a likeable presence, while Cozi Zuehlsdorff is adorable as the daughter of the doctor, (Harry Connick Jr.) who took care of Winter. Connick Jr. gives a solid performance, and Ashley Judd is lovely as Sawyer’s mother. Morgan Freeman is charming as always as the dolphin’s eccentric prosthetician. And of course, Winter does a great job of bringing her own spirit to the screen.
This movie review is written by our very talented MidLife Road Trip intern, Jessica Kemper. Jessica is enrolled at USF St. Petersburg, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications.