Dolphin Tale is an old-fashioned pledge for your heart strings that feels like something Disney might have put out in the ‘80s. Slick, nicely paced and well-acted, it’s an earnest, sweet film that relies on the extraordinary true story of Winter, the rescued dolphin, and little on manipulative Hollywood tricks.
Which is why it’s weird it’s in 3D. Other than a few dreamy underwater shots, and a brief chase scene with a wayward pelican, the extra dimension does extremely little to elevate the experience. Why bother when the story is as heart-warming as this? Are kids really that fickle?
It’s rare to find a film based on a true story – much less one as emotive as this – that doesn’t stoop to sentimentality. Yet Dolphin Tale has plenty to say about friendship, love, loss, disappointment, compassion, positivity, tenacity, triumph over adversity, even prosthetics technology… without shoving it down your throat. In fact, it could just be the perfect family flick to come out in time for summer. You’d be hard pressed to find a kid who wouldn’t want to swap places with Winter’s best friend, Sawyer, played by the very capable Nathan Gamble. Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman also rise to the occasion, even if much of their input you’ll be able to spot coming from the other side of the marine centre. Even with those silly glasses on.