Dolphin Tale

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One of this year’s most inspirational new movies, “Dolphin Tale” will be enjoyed be by viewers of all ages. This is the true story of a dolphin who has had its tail damaged and has the tail replaced by a prosthetic. As a matter of fact, the star of this movie - one of the year’s upcoming movies - is the real dolphin who received the prosthesis.

Movie news has it that as much as many people are going to enjoy this film, there are others that will be put off by its over-the-top inspiration and positivity. It can be a little hard to take. It’s actually a follow up to a movie by Alcon Entertainment called “The Blind,” a movie also meant to be about good people helping others.

Most of the great animal movies are more about the kids who love the animal than about the animal itself. “Dolphin Tale” is like these movie pictures. Nathan Gamble plays Sawyer, an 11 year old who’s been depressed since his father left. Ashley Judd plays his lovely mother, Lorraine, who’s having a hard time with Nathan. He’s flunking in school, is friendless, and spends all of his time playing with what his father has left in his workshop.

Then Sawyer’s life changes when he comes upon a beached dolphin near Clearwater, Florida, where Sawyer lives. Rescuers from a marine hospital nearby manage to untangle the dolphin from the ropes he’s twisted in but find that the dolphin’s tail has been badly hurt in a crab trap. Sawyer becomes obsessed with the dolphin, named Winter, after sneaking into the aquarium to check on him. And Winter seems to enjoy Sawyer’s visits as well.

Sawyer becomes a favorite of the staff of the aquarium, all led by Dr. Clay Haskett who’s played by Harry Connick, Jr. Hazel, Dr. Haskett’s daughter, is played by Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who happens to be close to Sawyer’s age and has no mother. Kris Kristofferson plays Clay’s father, a rough around the edges type of guy. Sawyer comes out of his shell, and begins to enjoy his life and to understand his own potential. Gamble is a talented young actor and makes this process very touching.

The doctor says, after Winter’s tail is amputated, that he needs a prosthesis. Morgan Freeman, playing a doctor at a local hospital, agrees to design just such a prosthesis. Unfortunately the first tail is rejected by Winter’s body.

After a hurricane, the hospital is in such bad shape that the decision is made to sell it. In a subplot, Sawyer’s cousin, played by Austin Stowell, a one-time swimming champion who returns from a stint in the army with an injury, is inspired by Winter.

Director Charles Martin Smith has had plenty of time working with animals in both “Never Cry Wolf” by Carroll Ballard and “Air Bud,” but doesn’t know when enough is enough with this new movie release. Just when it looks like the Marine Hospital is sunk, like magic, TV coverage is arranged and a big benefit saves the hospital. Then a local billionaire turns into Santa and Winter gets his new tail using a sleeve that has turned out to help many handicapped humans. Sawyer’s mom and Hazel’s dad don’t get together in the end, but then again, that’s what sequels are for.

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This article was published on 2011/11/02