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Dolphin Tale Inspires While Entertains

Updated on October 31, 2018
Kenna McHugh profile image

I've written, contributed to several books on film, and worked in the film industry. I like to share the insights of the movie business.

The behind-the-scenes footage is absolutely educational. Imagine working with a dolphin, teaching her how to use a prosthetic fin – the first time it has ever been done.

Wonderful Story for Everyone

If you are looking for a movie gift for someone special, Dolphin Tale is a good pick for the whole family. Sure it is a “family friendly” movie, but the story is about overcoming mental and physical obstacles. It is a film that quickly wins your heart because you immediately become intrigued by the inspirational story.

The film is based on a true story about a boy (Nathan Gamble) named Sawyer and his friend, Winter, a dolphin whose tail fell off after getting snagged in a crab trap. With the help of the boy, Winter was nurtured back to health by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Winter plays herself in the movie, which is pretty amazing. The Blu-ray/DVD combo release includes several aspects of Winter’s story. The behind-the-scenes footage is absolutely educational. Imagine working with a dolphin, teaching her how to use a prosthetic fin – the first time it has ever been done. A Dolphin Tale is the best family film of the year – a movie worth watching over and over during winter break.

Clearwater, FL, USA

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Washed Up on the Beach

Sawyer discovers Winter washed up on the beach. He helps her and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s emergency response team arrived to help the injured dolphin by bringing her to the aquarium.

Sawyer is the focus of the movie as we meet the Clearwater Marine Team, led by Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) and his daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff). Hazel and Sawyer become good friends. Clearly, we see a transformation of Sawyer. Once an apathetic boy with no real goal or purpose in life to a high-spirited, action-packed boy ready to help Winter get healthy and live a long fruitful life.

Winter is a camera charmer; she draws the viewers into her life. You cannot help but feel empathy for her plight. The animal is doing all the movements with and without the prosthetic fin – truly brilliant. For comical relief, the film has a puckish pelican named Rufus – he is quite hilarious.

Winter is a camera charmer; she draws the viewers into her life. You cannot help but feel empathy for her plight.

Winter Live on Camera

AFI Lifetime Achievement recipient, Morgan Freeman, brings a how new level to the movie. Cast as Dr. Cameron McCarthy, a military prosthetics doctor who is sufficient “out of the box” to try to make a prosthetic for a dolphin. We see a true Freeman character – adding the anchor to the whole process of developing a prosthetic fin for a dolphin. The McCarthy character is based on two prosthetic makers who had the mind's eye to help Winter overcome her physical barrier. Both the Blu-Ray and DVD offer “At Home with Winter” and “Winter’s Inspiration” featurettes -- all the work that went into creating Winter’s fin. It cannot go without mention that the prosthetics makers volunteered their time – continuing to design new prosthetics as Winter grows.

The Blu-ray also comes with two treats -- two additional animated shorts -- “The Hutash Rainbow Bridge” -- telling the story Dr. Clay related to Sawyer in the movie. “Ormie and the Cookie Jar” -- viewers are given an original short similar to Pixar’s style.

I highly recommend Dolphin Tale. You can even visit Winter in Clearwater by heading over to and view Winter live on the webcam.

© 2011 Kenna McHugh


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