Dolphin Tale 2 – 2014

Writer and Director Charles Martin Smith
Starring Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Morgan Freeman, Bethany Hamilton

Dolphin Tale 2 is a continuation of a story that is a sweet if derivative of real events.  This time around, Winter, a dolphin – who lost her tail fins and was nursed back to health and given a prosthetic in the first film – is faced with a new challenge. No it’s not another faux hurricane that makes it to where everyone has to “put on a show.” More bravely, and less spectacularly, it revolves around the loss of Winter’s female companion Panama. The death of her friend sends Winter into a tailspin. She refuses her prosthetic, shows signs of stress and duress, and starts to genuinely concern those who care for her.

Another dolphin named Mandy is brought into the Clearwater Marine Aquarium after getting beached and sunburned. The team there is tempted to use Mandy as a buffer for Winter. She recovers though, and the CMA team is given no choice but to release her. Meanwhile, Sawyer, the protagonist from the first film, has been given an offer that he seemingly should not refuse: an élite SEA Semester program full 3 month scholarship. It’s a big opportunity, but the kid love being at CMA.

Along the way, they rescue other animals, like a turtle. They also show how CMA has become a lightning rod for many who have disability challenges themselves. Time spent with Winter is good therapy, just as seeing Bethany Hamilton of Soul Surfer fame. In the most surprising and delightful turn of the night, I discovered that Morgan Freeman is one of my youngest’s favorite actors. There is hope for the future, indeed.

Charles Martin Smith, who directed the first film, writes this film as well. It’s not much in the story department, but at least its realistic enough to not insult the intelligence. Well, almost. There is a sequence with a pelican and the turtle which seems forced and extremely unlikely. It worked magic on my wife and kids, though, and the former doesn’t even like animal films.

Overall, there are worse ways one could spend their time than learning a bit about such glorious beings with whom we share this planet. Everyone had a good time, and the kids are inspired. Job well done.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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