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Dolphin Tale: My review

Updated on October 23, 2011

Dolphin Tale

Dolphin Tale: A beautiful, fun family film

I always enjoy seeing movies that make me feel inspired, happy and wanting to share the experience with my family. I usually know the kind of movie to see with my son that will draw us in from the beginning and take us on a fascinating ride. I am always looking for those family movies that appeal to my son who is very particular in his choices. He only wants to see movies that have a good storyline and is geared for kids and has no violence. He is very good with his viewing habits and will usually only watch "G" rated movies. It will take some convincing to get him to go to a "PG" movie but if I believe he will learn something valuable and also enjoy it I will make the appeal to him and he usually will come to see it.

Dolphin Tale is one of those movies you know is worth seeing with the family and so good that it will probabaly bring you back again to see it. It is directed by the talented actor and director, Charles Martin Smith. The story is based on the real story of Winter, a dolphin with a lot of heart and her caretakers and it is very inspirational. I have always enjoyed movies that center around family, have a wonderful story to tell and leave us feeling touched, inspired and happy. I enjoy when I take my family to good family fun movies and I believe Dolphin Tale is at the top of the list to see with your children, your spouse and grandma too.

Dolphin Tale is a wonderful and very true story of a dolphin that is found injured and washed ashore on a Florida beach and caught in a crab trap. It looks pretty grim for the dolphin as it is in tremendous pain and all alone. A young boy riding his bicycle along the beach and a fisherman see the injured dolphin. The boy, Sawyer Nelson, after assessing the dolphin's situation works to free it from the trap. Upon cutting it loose the medical team responds to the fisherman's call for help and Dr. Clay Haskett and his crew readies it for transport to the Clearwater Marine Hospital where they begin a series of treatments to help it in its recovery process.

Sawyer really takes to the dolphin and wants to know how it is doing so he rides his bicycle to the Clearwater Marine Hospital where he meets Hazel, the daughter of Dr. Clay Haskett while poking around the facility. He develops a friendship with Hazel and he gets to help nurse the dolphin back to health with her and the medical team. Winter is the name Hazel chooses for the dolphin for good luck since she helped nurse two other dolphins back to good health she named Summer and Autumn. The story is truly heartwarming and you find yourself really pulling for Winter and you are inspired by the medical team's dedication and Sawyer's amazing spirit and drive to do all he can to help his new found friend. It is something that makes you appreciate a child's innocence and belief that they can do the impossible.

Dr. Clay Haskett is played by the multi talented musician and actor, Harry Connick Jr and he is perfect for the role and you really develop a liking to him and appreciate his dedication and his belief and hope in nursing Winter back to health. He has to make a tough but necessary decision in amputating the tail of the dolphin to help save it. This is very difficult for Sawyer and Hazel to understand but they want what is best for Winter. The doctor has a wonderful bond with his daughter Hazel, with Sawyer and his staff. His facility is facing financial pressures and the board convenes to determine the fate of the facility and the animals as they look for a buyer of the property. The doctor does not want to face this reality and does all he can to do what he is meant to do which is to nurse the dolphin back and not get sidetracked by the finances.

Sawyer's mom is played by Ashely Judd and she confronts her son after finding out he has skipped summer classes for an entire week so he could help nurse the dolphin. Upon visiting the facility and seeing her son's enthusiasm and real desire to help she realizes that this means so much to him and she believes it is a tremendous opportunity and a real life learning experience for him and she decides that this will serve him well and she encourages him to continue his goodwill mission to nurse Winter back to health. She likes the facility, her son's commitment to helping and his new friend Hazel and she eventually convinces his teacher that he should get school credit for his experience if he documents it in an essay.

Dolphin Tale touches us on so many levels because it shows us a wonderful transformation of a shy young boy without a father in his life, Sawyer (Nathan Gamble) and how a dolphin (Winter) and a young girl, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) help to bring him out of his shell and teaches him to dream. It also teaches us that we can dream the impossible and achieve it if we truly believe it. There is also a touching scene between Sawyer and his cousin Kyle, a champion swimmer who is injured in an explosion during his military service who faces the reality of having to lose his leg. Kyle is being treated at Department of Veteran Affairs Hospital where he is tended to by Dr. Cameron McCarthy, played by the legendary Morgan Freeman who is a specialist in prosthetics. He convinces his cousin to not shut him or his family out by his words "You're not the only one hurting"! This helps bring their relationship closer and Kyle opens up and allows Sawyer back in his life.

Another veteran actor featured in the movie is Kris Kristofferson who plays Dr. Clay Haskett's father and the quiet force behind the effort in saving Winter. He is featured in scenes that touch us as well and he adds that extra touch to the movie as the father and loving grandfather.

In the aftermath of a hurricane the facility where Winter is being treated is wrecked which causes the board to convene and decide to sell the property given the financial pressures they face. Dr. Clay Haskett's main focus is on saving Winter and he and his staff continue their mission but they now face the reality of losing their facility and not knowing what will become of Winter.

Sawyer convinces Dr. McCarthy to visit at the facility to see if he can build a prosthetic for Winter. Upon his visit he sees the magical relationship between the staff, Sawyer, Hazel and the dolphin and he decides he will do his best to work on a prosthetic suitable for Winter. It is a tremendous feat of engineering and requires a lot of attempts at designing the appropriate tail that will fit and feel right. After persistence and tremendous dedication and the insight of a young boy they finally find the right tail that helps to save Winter's life.

The next battle they face is trying to keep the facility and when a mother and her handicapped daughter drive from Atlanta to see Winter, Sawyer is touched and he convinces the doctor to create a website to help raise funds and to perform a show that showcases Winter. Kyle also convinces a girlfriend who is a television news reporter to feature the story of Winter and their fundraising efforts. Kyle also decides to swim in a competition to help raise money for the cause.

We were touched by this wonderful story and we felt inspired as we learned what it truly means to dream and have a vision and a hope and most of all the desire to help and make a difference in one's life, even when that life is a Dolphin's. I was happy to accompany my son and mother-in-law to this movie as it will appeal to "kids" of all ages. It is a true delight. Go see it with your children or your girlfriend. It is sure to please.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Dolphin Tale

Winter, a remarkable dolphin


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    • ediann profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Dear Portuguese,

      Thank you for your kind comment! I think it is great that you will see this movie with your nephew. You both will love it. We love dolphins too! It must be so beautiful where you live by the sea in Portugal! Thank you for sharing your experiences. Best wishes to you and your family!

    • a portuguese love profile image

      maria fernandes 

      6 years ago from Figueira da Foz Portugal

      I just love dolphins!I never watched this! Must rent it to watch with my nephew! I live by the sea, in Portugal.We have dolphins near Azores islands and Sado river.:)


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