Dolphin Tale (U)



Family (2011)
112mins UK

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ray McKinnon, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Rus Blackwell, Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writer(s): Karen Janszen, Noam Dromi
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

A bottlenose dolphin called Winter is snared in a crab trap in Fort Pierce, Florida, and loses her tail. A young boy called Sawyer Nelson befriends the injured mammal and realises that he must intervene to save Winter. He implores medic Dr McCarthy to fashion the dolphin a prosthetic, believing that the mammal will adapt to the appendage. Spurred on by his mother, Sawyer galvanises his tiny community.

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LondonNet Film Review
Dolphin Tale

Winter the bottlenose dolphin steals the spotlight away from Hollywood leading men Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr and Kris Kristofferson in this heart-warming true story of triumph against adversity...

Dolphin Tale. Warner Bros. Found fighting for her life after being caught in the ropes of a crab trap in Florida, the young dolphin - who plays herself in this heart-warming film - was discovered by young boy Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble), who soon calls for medical services. Winter is rescued and taken to Clearwater Marine Hospital, which is run by dedicated marine biologist Clay Haskett (Connick Jr) and his wise-speaking father, Reed (Kristofferson). Such is the severity of the mammal's injuries, the decision is taken to amputate her tail and significantly increase her odds of survival. "How's she going to live if she can't swim?" says Sawyer. "You can't give up on her," replies Reed mystically. Furthermore, the Hasketts' practice is financially stretched and board members are deciding whether to cut funding to the centre given that the latest patient, Winter, is placing a huge burden on resources for her medicine and care. "No dolphin has ever been known to lose its entire tail, and survive," coldly observes the head of the board.

Parallelling Winter's tale is the deeply human story of Sawyer's cousin, Kyle (Austin Stowell). Once a champion swimmer and now enlisted in the Army, his dream to compete in the Olympics is shattered to smithereens after an explosion affects his right leg. When Sawyer meets prosthetics expert Dr Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), who attempts to help Kyle through his injuries, the youngster wonders if the medic could also fashion a prosthetic tail for Winter. "Trying to put a tail on a fish? Nobody in his right mind would even try it. Luckily, I'm not - in my right mind," quips Dr McCarthy saltily. Even when the tail has been produced, Winter has to adjust and adapt to her new appendage. Thankfully, Winter is buoyed by Sawyer's unwavering devotion, Clay's determination and persistence and Dr McCarthy's boundless patience.

Dolphin Tale. Warner BrosDolphin Tale is a rousing adventure for the entire family. Winter's inspirational fight for survival has transformed her into a symbol of courage and hope for many facing their own physical challenges. She has become a celebrity in Clearwater, with people travelling far and wide across America to meet her. The closing credits featuring real video footage are sure to melt even the most cold-hearted cinemagoer. Director Charles Martin Smith occasionally drizzles the syrupy sentiment and schmaltz, but laces his sugary pill with pure joy.

- Sam Cannon


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