The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Dolphin Tale 2 (PG)

Dolphin Tale 2 (PG)
Film Reviews

By Amy Diaz

Dolphin Tale 2 (PG)

A plucky dolphin and her friends — human, dolphin and avian — get inspirational music scores in the ho-hum Dolphin Tale 2, a sequel to the 2011 film about the dolphin with the prosthetic tail.
Winter, the tail-amputee from the first movie, is a happy performer of an aquarium/aquatic animal rescue in Clearwater, Fla. Because she now swims with the help of a prosthetic tail, she can’t go back into the ocean — the ultimate destination for most of the animals the aquarium takes in — but she is happy with her many daily visitors and her human trainers, including Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), the boy who found her. But Winter’s dolphin buddy, an older female dolphin named Panama, dies, and Winter is left bereft. Federal regulations require that healthy dolphins not be isolated, so the aquarium’s operator, Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.), must find another female dolphin for Winter to hang out with. But Mandy, the other rescue dolphin, is well enough to head to the ocean, even though Sawyer and his buddy (and Haskett’s daughter) Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) think that Mandy is Winter’s best shot at staying at the aquarium and recovering from her depression. 
Or whatever it’s called when dolphins are grieving.
Meanwhile, Sawyer has a big decision to make: he’s been picked for a prestigious marine study program, but it will mean that he has to leave Clearwater, the animals and his family (including his mom, played by Ashley Judd) for months. And he’s not sure he wants to leave Winter at this critical time, nor is he sure he’s ready to leave his mom or interested in leaving Hazel, who has been exchanging Significant Looks with him.
The animals are adorable, the music is soaring, the children are moppet-y despite being teenagers and long past moppet age. The aquarium is full of loving and caring adults who frequently seem to let kids take over parts of key operations. Also, there seems to be a lot of clapping going on, even at sensitive dolphin-pair-bonding moments where loud applause seems to be a bad idea. (It seems like having a theater full of humans watching two dolphins figure out if they should be friends or fight to the death would be a little like going on a first date with a bunch of elephants staring at you. Sure, they probably don’t know what you’re saying, but it would still be weird and unsettling.) Dolphin Tale is uplifting, cutesy, nonsensical and totally boring. 
Mavis, a giant sea turtle, shows up early in the movie and is later released. She is let go on the beach and has to make what seems like a cruelly long waddle-crawl to the actual water. As forever as this seems to take, it was at least cool, in the way that footage of animals doing their animal thing is often cool, and I would happily watch that on a loop for two hours before sitting through another scene of Hazel and her dad having and/or resolving the world’s lamest conflict (something about him respecting her enough to read reports or something, I couldn’t even pay attention to their lifeless dialogue). The friendship/burgeoning something-more-ship between Sawyer and Hazel is both something that the movie hammers home and something that it ultimately does nothing with. I never once cared about them — or frankly about any of the humans, who display very pat emotions that always feel unearned.
Slow-mo of humans and dolphins frolicking is something I would never ever ask for and something this movie delivers way too much of. Animals as cool as this movie wants us to believe these animals are deserve a straight-up documentary. C-
Rated PG for some mild thematic elements. Written and directed by Charles Martin Smith (and inspired by a true story), Dolphin Tale 2 is an hour and 47 minutes long and is distributed by Warner Bros.

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