Wednesday, September 21, 2011

REVIEW: Dolphin Tale 3D

Dolphin Tale

Nathan Gamble,
Henry Connick Jr.


September 23, 2011

Charles Martin Smith

Warner Bros. Pictures

1 hour 53 minutes



As the summer was ending and students were preparing for school, my family and I were lucky enough to attend a special advance screening of the new 3D family drama 'Dolphin Tale.'  I saw this film exactly one month ago, so as the release is quickly approaching, I am finally letting my thoughts out from behind the curtain.  In case you don't know what 'Dolphin Tale' is about, it tells the story of Winter, a dolphin who lost his tale and, with the help of many believers, recovered by getting a prosthetic tail put in place.  This film is from the producers of the much acclaimed sports drama 'The Blind Side,' in which Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award for best actress.  While the film's cast, including Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman probably won't be nominated for any awards, 'Dolphin Tale' is a sweet, charming inspirational drama that will have young and old audiences cheering for Winter the dolphin, as well as her kid co-stars.

Like 'Blind Side,' 'Dolphin Tale' isn't afraid to show the gruesome reality of life.  As the trailer and poster show, Winter the Dolphin gets her tail amputated in order to prevent infections from spreading, which makes her ability to live very dismal as she can only swim in a way that could destroy her spine and cause death.  This aspect of the story can be very emotional, since it is very depressing to see this poor animal getting closer and closer to meeting death.  I remember hearing some parents sniffing a bit during some scenes in this movie, so I want to let you know now that this is a sad movie, but always gets lit up soon after.  The story is inspirational, so it may give kids hope about the future, kind of like 'Soul Surfer.'  There was a scene in this movie where you see a mother and a daughter who drove from Atlanta, Georgia to see Winter, and you don't expect this little girl to be handicapped and have one leg.  It was a shocking but satisfying moment for myself, as you clearly see how this poor Dolphin has changed the lives of young kids with disabilities or are missing body parts.  This moment in the film is what really got me, and boy did it get me good.

The casting in this movie was nearly perfect.  I've never seen Harry Connick Jr. or Kris Kristofferson in a movie before, but they gave very good performances throughout the movie, and helped keep the pace of the film going.  Another good cast member, surprisingly to me, was Ashley Judd, who plays the main boy, Sawyer's mother.  From the moment they meet, you expect Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd to become a couple, mainly because they're both single and each have a child.  Luckily, screenwriters Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi were smart enough to leave out this cliché from the film, which is something remarkably different from most kids movies that come out these days.  Romance for the most part in kids movie are highly irrelevant, unless it's a romantic family movie.  Oh wait, has there ever been one of those?  Morgan Freeman is also in this movie:  Do I need to say more? 

When I originally saw the trailer for this movie and the "in 3D" title card came up at the end, I was somewhat disappointed because it seems that studios will convert anything into the third dimension in order to get some extra cash.  However there have been some good conversions recently, 'Captain America' and 'The Green Hornet' being the first movies that come to mind, so I went in with high hopes for a nice 3D experience.  Let me be the first to say that 3D is highly unnecessary for this movie, with most of the scenes in the movie involved human characters trying to find a way to deal with a life of Winter.  My family agreed with me, believing that the movie would have been just as good in 2D.  Luckily the conversion turned out good, and the 3D looked very good.  If you do have to see this movie in 3D, you won't be very disappointed, as the 3D ticket is worth paying for in my opinion.  But if you also get the 2D option, do yourself a favor and save the extra 3D money.  However you see this movie, whether it's in 3D or 2D, 'Dolphin Tale' is a great family film with important lessons on life and a very inspirational story about never giving up.

With harmless laughs, some emotional patches, and nothing but heart throughout, 'Dolphin Tale' may be the best live action family movie out there.  In a year where we got little blue smurfs, wimpy kids in middle schools, and a whole lot of animation, this is a sort of refreshment for the family movie season, as the best thing we got from the summer was either a action packed spectacle or a fun animated flick.  Unless you want to take your kids to see 'The Lion King 3D,' this is the best family movie playing out there right now.  This also may be the first family movie this year that people of all ages will enjoy.  Everyone at my screening seemed to have all had a good time, and there was even a huge standing ovation.  It seems that there's something for everybody this weekend, and it seems that everything coming out is going to be good.  'Moneyball' is for the baseball fanatics and teen boys, 'Abduction' is for the teen girls/Taylor Lautner fans, and 'Killer Elite' is for those looking for some solid action.  It's going to be interesting to see how well this movie does this weekend, but just remember that if you're looking for pure family entertainment, do yourself a favor and check out 'Dolphin Tale,' the best family drama since 'The Blind Side.' (To parents reading this, 'The Blind Side' is rated PG-13, but can still be appropriate for kids over the age of 8.)