Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dolphin Tale - Movie Review


Starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, Frances Sternhagen, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Austin Stowell and Ray McKinnon. Directed by Charles Martin Smith.

The first question on many a mind might be, "What is Morgan Freeman doing here?" The answer is two-fold. 1.) He doesn't show up til the 65-minute mark, so it must've been decent pay for just a few days' work, and 2.) Have you seen how it's doing at the box-office? May have been pretty shrewd on his part.

This is the kind of pleasant for-kids cute-animal movie that could have just as easily been ABC's Disney Sunday Movie in 1988. A dolphin loses her tail but due to two kids who care and some kind adults, they figure out a way to make her a prosthetic tail.

Every moment is played broadly. The main kid, Nathan Gamble, has that shy hesitancy common in boys, but is it really so common before every single choice laid in front of him? I got tired of the delayed reaction to everything for comic effect. But the adults have that style too. Kris Kristofferson is the twinkly-eyed grandpa who exists solely to dispense one-liner wisdom. Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd are individually single parents who might, might, have something blossom into a G-rated romance by the time this movie's done, and they have to have those exasperated pauses after everything.

Then there's this subplot about the kid's cousin going off to Iraq and coming back disabled. He doesn't lose his leg but we gather there's enough nerve damage there to where he'll never be able to fulfill his dream of swimming in the Olympics. And this wounded vet and the other wounded vets at the hospital are all rooting for this... dolphin... to accept her prosthetic tail. Just seemed grotesque to make a soldier's plight secondary to a dolphin's plight.

Now this is a harmless, inoffensive, heart-warming, blah-blah-blah family film. I got bored, even with Freeman there. They could have trimmed ten minutes easily by picking up the pace and needed to trim twenty overall. Its RotTom rating is 83%, so I know I'm in the minority.

When the dolphin dove right at the screen at the end, I remembered, "Oh yeah, they released this in 3-D too." Makes about as much sense as releasing Moneyball in 3-D.

Side note: This is the third time Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd have done a film together. They also starred in Kiss the Girls and High Crimes, both murder mysteries.

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