My taste in movies is a bit strange. I can watch and enjoy almost any kind, ranging from the dark comedies of the Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, Fargo), to period pieces like The King’s Speech, and such recent fare as Young Adult and The Descendants.
Every now and then, though, I just want to see something where I know all will turn out well. Where I know the nice dolphin is not only going to live, but go on to star in the movie about its life. An uplifting, eye-watering, feel good flick that even a grown up / big kid like me can enjoy. A case in point: Dolphin Tale.
A troubled young boy named Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), missing his long-gone father and losing his cousin and best friend to military service, must take summer school to repair his awful grades. Riding his bike home after school, he sees the dolphin; beached, tangled in ropes, tail caught in a crab trap. He does his best to free the creature, who is soon whisked away for treatment by experts from the nearby Clearwater Marine Hospital.
The next day he skips school to check on his new friend, and is brought up to date by the daughter of the local veterinarian. The dolphin (named Winter), is doing all right, except that her tail is badly infected and must be amputated. She learns to swim without it, although that leads to other problems. Bottom line: without a replacement tail, Winter’s days are numbered.
Enter a doctor (Morgan Freeman) from a nearby VA hospital, who happens to specialize in fitting new parts to humans. He’s never worked with a dolphin before, but hey, he’s got some time and access to technology. Tail after artificial tail is tried, and Winter rejects each one. Not only that, but money’s running out, the sale of the marine hospital to a hotel developer is imminent, and a hurricane decides to blow through.
How Winter and her human friends overcome these problems is a sight to behold. The young, painfully shy boy is transformed by this new direction in life, and Winter brings out the best in everyone she encounters. It’s a bit of a formula, but I fell for it…hook, line and sinker. The performances are understated and at times, close to profound.
Dolphin Tale is an affective little movie that left me thinking about dolphins in general and the ones who recently beached themselves off Cape Cod. I hope some of them, like Winter, were saved.