Let’s face it: did anyone actually ask for a sequel to “Dolphin Tale?” I mean, a lot of people including myself enjoyed the first movie, as it had a sweet story with good characters and a better than average script. Even I didn’t think that the film needed a sequel, as it wrapped things up well and gave people much more notice on Winter the Dolphin than before. Even though Hope the Dolphin is a real creature who was actually rescued and resides with Winter, I still don’t think there was any reason for this film to be made. Alas, though, Warner Bros. saw an easy way to get kids into the seats, and thus we are here today. However, for as generic, predictable, and manipulative this film is, I still found some of the elements of the first movie that worked to still be here, which actually surprised me. “Dolphin Tale 2” is not as good as the original, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t actual effort put into this that made me appreciate and enjoy the film more than I did before.
The story takes place several years after Winter has been rescued and given her prosthetic tail, allowing her to continue living on. The boy that gained an “E.T.” like relationship with Winter, Sawyer, now works at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to be closer to the action and to be closer with his aquatic friend. Things start to turn sour again as Winter’s surrogate mother Panama passes away due to old age, who also happened to be the only other poolmate she ever had. Distraught and traumatized, Winter won’t eat, play, or even put on the special tail that allows her to swim correctly. And according to USDA regulations, Winter must be paired up with another dolphin soon as it’s in their social behavior to be acquainted with another one of their species. If the team at Clearwater can’t find another companion for Winter, then they’ll lose her and be forced to give her to another aquarium,
Just like in the first movie, the performances here are actually pretty good. Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, and the rest of the adult actors present are all fine and solid, however that’s expected with a movie that features this amount of talent. The kid actors in the movie, Nathan Gamble and Cozi Zuehlsdorff, continue to show their improving talents in the acting department. I mean, their performances aren’t the most incredible things I’ve seen, but compared to other child actors, they did a pretty solid job overall. And Bethany Hamilton, the surfer whose survival story inspired the movie “Soul Surfer,” is in this as well, though her role is more of a cameo than anything despite being featured on the poster. Nothing really bad I can say here, so let’s move along.
The story itself isn’t anything remarkably original, and the script has its cliches, but I was still entertained by everything overall. The movie has its schmaltzy and dumb moments, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find myself entertained. It was nice to be back in this world with these characters, and the fact that this actually was based on a true story (I checked, it’s legit) actually impresses me more. While it’s not a sequel that’s remarkably memorable, I still found “Dolphin Tale 2” to be a pleasant family movie with some sweet moments, decent acting, and is overall a nice film to see on a Saturday morning in September. In a month where nothing incredibly special is out, as movies are currently recovering (both in a good and bad way) from the summer, this is a nice movie to have as a sort of breather before the holiday/awards movies come in full force.