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Dolphin Tale


Stars: Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Corey Zuehlsdorff, Kris Kristofferson, Frances Sternhagen

Director: Charles Martin Smith

Here’s perfect family entertainment, particularly for uncynical youngsters not yet addicted to the rougher edges of the Internet. It’s yet another riff on the boy-loves-beast cinema staple that’s worked well for over a century in such classics as ‘My Friend Flicka’, ‘Lassie’ tales and ‘E.T. - The Extraterrestrial’.

Here the lad is question is Gamble who, naturally, has freckles and charm to spare. So he skips school to bond with the injured dolphin he found on the beach and which has now been moved into a financially-stressed marine Marine Hospital. There he meets the requisite young girl, Zuehlsdorff, who joins him in the save-the-dolphin quest that happens after the dolphin loses its tail and, unable to swim, is heading for its finale.

Naturally, that doesn’t happen (according to this the dolphin in question is living happily ever after) as kindly human prosthetics expert Freeman – exuding enough warmth to heat the Atlantic – comes up with a prosthetic tail that saves the dolphin…

Comedy, drama and sentiment are well mixed and I particularly enjoyed the scene when Gamble’s radio-controlled toy helicopter flies amok, accompanied, “Apocalypse Now’-style by Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’.

Give Gamble and Zuehlsdorff credit for not being upstaged by their amiable marine costar or a mischievous scene-stealing pelican : they probably would have upstaged Esther Williams. Connick Jr and Judd competently fill the adult roles, while grizzled Kristofferson looks as though he worked with Moby Dick. Deftly ‘Disneyfied’ by writers Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi and actor (‘The Untouchables’) Martin Smith, ‘Dolphin Tale’ – set in Florida, home of the cinema and TV legend ‘Flipper’ is good, clean fun for youngsters – and not likely to strain the patience of accompanying adults either.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Warner Bros.. Colour.
112 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 Oct 2011