From Warner Brothers and the folks who brought you “Blindside”, “Dolphin Tale” is sure to please a broad base of family friendly film-goers. It’s the true story of Winter, a dolphin trapped by a rope resulting in injuries that require the amputation of it’s tail, the efforts to nurse it back to health, and the pro-bono attempt to outfit Winter with a prosthetic tail. The story is given a Hollywood spin by director Charles Martin Smith, who coaxes fine performances from Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd. Judd plays the single mother of Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), young boy drifting through summer school, talented but unmotivated, until he helps rescue Winter and becomes energized to help the dolphin survive. He joins the work of the financially challenged Clearwater Aquarium ( where Winter actually lives today), with the help of a new found friend, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorf) the daughter of the aquarium’s vet, Clay Haskett (Connick). The youngsters give terrific, naturalistic performances. Morgan Freeman is very good as as the prosthetic designer who develops what’s become known as “Winter’s Gel” a synthetic sleeve that has now helped countless amputees adapt to their devices. There are the usual Hollywood excesses: for example, a feisty pelican, and a couple of needless montages for comic relief, but it’s  an agreeable, feel-good film. A 4 year-old behind me said to his mom, “that was a ‘weedy’ good movie!” Stay for the credits because the actual footage of Winter interacting with real amputees is an emotional highlight. By the way, I didn’t see the need for the 3D treatment, it will be just as enjoyable in 2D.

Rated: PG

My GPA Rating: 3.6

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