I’m going to be completely honest and say right off the bat that watching as many films as I do a year (must be around 300ish) has gotten a little trying over time. Somehow, though, I never tire of animal flicks. If it is injured or sick animals, oh boy, even more of a sucker for them I am. This, based on a true story, one seemed to come out of the blue last year. The public ate it up with a spoon. It was a surprising success. If you didn’t see it when it was in the theatre then here’s your chance to have a good cry in the privacy of your own living room.
Sawyer (Nathan Gamble – Marley & Me, The Dark Knight) is a quiet, introverted young boy. His father left five years ago and he has not heard from him since. Sawyer is more interested in building helicopters than school. He has failed everything and must go to summer school.
Young Sawyer idolizes his cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell – from television’s The Secret Life of an American Teenager), a record breaking swimmer, who has joined the military and has been called off to active duty. Kyle is doing it to get money so he can train for the Olympics.
On his way to summer school, Sawyer sees a dolphin that has been beached. He cuts the dolphin loose from the fisherman’s ropes and cages around its tail. People from the Clearwater Marine Rescue facility come and take her away. Later Sawyer sneaks into the facility to see the dolphin. They have named her Winter. Winter is listless except when Sawyer is around. Sawyer meets the man who runs the facility, Dr. Clay (Harry Connick Jr. – Hope Floats, Copycat) and his daughter, Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff – first film). He begins to sneak off to the facility every day. For the first time in a long time Sawyer is happy and excited. Later, he even convinces his mother (Ashley Judd – Heat, Kiss the Girls) to go to the facility to learn and work with the animals instead of summer school.
A damper is put on his happiness the young boy receives three bad pieces of news. Sawyer learns that Kyle has been injured in an explosion and is coming home. On top of that, he finds out that the facility will have to close because of financial troubles. Finally, Winter, who has begun eating and swimming, had to have her tail amputated as it was too damaged due to a lack of oxygen from the ropes.
Kyle comes home not being able to move his right leg and it seems as if his swimming career is over. Winter, because she cannot swim without a tail, might have to be euthanized because no other facility will take an injured dolphin. With all this going on around him, Sawyer begins to realize that he is going to have to take the lead if things are going to work out alright. A lot of growing up in small space of time for a young boy.
With the rising cost of going out with the family to see a movie at the local multi-plex many are choosing to spend their hard earned money elsewhere. I can confidently recommend this film as family viewing. Good for all ages and a film where you can laugh, cheer and even cry. It will capture the heart and imagination of anyone who watches it. Important lessons in hope, courage and perseverance are here to be learned. Family is forever. Don’t give up ever. It might inspire a few young people to help and injured animal or family member.
Technical pluses include the cinematography and the fact that you can watch it in 3D (which, for once, enhances the experience). It is beautifully shot and the colours are crystal clear.
-The Hutash Rainbow Bridge
– At Home with Winter
– Dolphin Tale: Spotlight on a Scene
– Winter’s Inspiration
– Ormie and the Cookie Jar
– Deleted Scenes
– Gag Reel