201 Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Written by Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi
TarsTarkas.NET scored another free advanced screening because we’re awesome, and this time we saw the family film Dolphin Tale in 3D. And once again we’re giving a positive review to a film we saw for free. Let’s the claims that we’ve sold out begin! Because they are all dirty dirty lies. One day we’ll see something awful…but not today.
Dolphin Tale is a good family film, and as it is loosely based on a true story it is one of those inspirational films we don’t have enough of. The major problem with films like these is making them feel good without becoming gigantic cheese factories. Dolphin Tale manages to avoid most of those pitfalls and presents us with a story that seems plausible. The film throws in some traditional storytelling arcs around a child protagonist in order to capture the largest possible potential audience. And it is a good choice, as it is hard to structure a story around a character that isn’t human and can’t talk except for squeals and whistles. Even SeaQuest DSV had to have humans around their dolphin!
A fisherman and a child named Sawyer Nelson find a dolphin stranded on the beach, entangled in a crab trap and badly injured. The Sea Animal Rescue crew is called in and take the dolphin away, but the normally jaded and withdrawn Sawyer is strangely concerned about the dolphin’s fate and sneaks into the rehabilitation center. He befriends Hazel, the daughter of the doctor who runs the place, and soon is involved in the rehabilitation of Winter the dolphin.
Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) – Sawyer has gone bitter since his dad ran off years ago, interested in nothing except looking up to his older cousin, remote controlled helicopters, and failing school. But finding an injured dolphin by the sea changes his life and gives him the first sense of joy he’s had for years. His mom is a single nurse Lorraine Nelson (Ashley Judd), who is your typical struggling single mom. Nathan Gamble is probably best known for being Commissioner Gordon’s son in The Dark Knight. His acting here is more muted, and fades in comparison to…
Hazel Haskett (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) – Dr. Haskett’s daughter who works at the Sea Animal Rescue hospital and befriends Sawyer. Good thing there was a kid his age! Otherwise Sawyer would have to find out about Winter via text messaging or something. This is Cozi Zuehlsdorff’s first film, and she acts rings around some of the other characters, though she does tend to overact.
Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.) – Marine biologist who runs the Sea Animal Rescue hospital, father of Hazel, and swinging bachelor. His dad Reed is Kris Kristofferson, so he comes from a long line of cool. Dr. Haskett is too busy trying to save animals to worry about funding his hospital, which helps define the third act after the random hurricane.
Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) – Morgan Freeman pops up eventually as a doctor who makes artificial limbs. He’s enlisted by Sawyer to make an artificial fin for Winter.
Winter (herself, CGI, and puppets) – Winter is the dolphin who has a tale about losing her tail. Hey, I just got the pun in the title! Just kidding, I got it like five minutes ago…
Rufus (some Pelican and CGI) – The surprise standout of Dolphin Tale, Rufus shows up a lot in the film harassing various characters and stealing all the scenes he’s in. He also eats fish and lives on a roof, hence the name, Ceiling! I mean, Rufus.