Inspired by an extraordinary true story, Dolphin Tale is a heart-warming family drama about an injured dolphin that learns to swim again with the help of a prosthetic tail.
The film’s human hero is 11-year-old Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), an introverted only child who rescues the dolphin from a crab trap and convinces Morgan Freeman’s prosthetic limbs expert to design a tail fin for her. But the Florida marine hospital taking care of the dolphin, now named Winter, is threatened with closure. Can Sawyer help save the hospital so that Winter survive?
With a similarly uplifting parallel story involving Sawyer’s swimming champion cousin, a soldier injured in action overseas, actor turned director Charles Martin Smith tugs a little too hard on the viewer’s heartstrings, but Freeman’s shrewd underplaying prevents the film from drowning in schmaltz. Ashley Judd as Sawyer’s mother and Harry Connick Jr as the marine biologist who runs the hospital make less of an impression than a pesky pelican, the film’s avian comic relief, whose looming swoops are a reminder that the film was originally released in the cinema in 3D. Winter plays herself in the film so you know a happy ending is in store, and documentary footage showing the real events of her recovery, which run before the credits, affirm that her tale is true.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 13th February by Warner Home Video.