“Dolphin Tale 2” is the follow up to 2011’s “Dolphin Tale,” focusing on the continued story of Winter the dolphin. The sequel concentrates on finding Winter a companion dolphin so that she may stay at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. If a companion isn’t found, she risks getting shipped to a different facility, away from those who saved and cared for her. Based heavily on true events, “Dolphin Tale 2” is a family-friendly feel-good film that intends to inspire, and it actually does.
The original cast from the first film returns, reprising their roles in the sequel. Harry Connick Jr. plays Dr. Clay Haskett, the main operator of the aquarium and Hazel’s (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) father. Nathan Gamble returns as Sawyer Nelson, Winter’s rescuer and caretaker, and Ashley Judd plays his mother, Lorraine. Kris Kristofferson also returns as Clay Haskell’s father, while Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Dr. McCarthy, a prosthetic designer. It’s a greatly assembled cast that brings their real-life characters to the audience with such honesty and authenticity.
The best thing about this film is the fact that it is based off of true events. Aside from the fluff of making it a heart-warming, emotionally driven story, the fact can’t be denied that this actually is a heart-warming, emotionally driven story. Winter actually exists. Hope, the new dolphin they are trying to pair with Winter is real. The other animals who were rescued in the film were rescued in real life. Their stories are real life stories that have inspired thousands of people to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to learn and get involved in doing good. For that, the film is worth seeing.
Aside from the possible cookie-cutter replica of the first film, “Dolphin Tale 2” actually is a good film. It wasn’t really as suspenseful as the first, but it still had that warmth that makes these films worthy of some sort of praise. Its attempt at creating a side plot when Sawyer is offered a full scholarship to attend a semester at sea falls slightly flat, as the result of that is apparently obvious throughout the film. Still, the focus was never really taken away from what mattered, and that was the aquarium’s mission to rescue, rehab, and release.
Overall, “Dolphin Tale 2” does exactly what the first film did, which is both a pro and a con. It leaves you feeling good, but also leaves you wondering what is so different than the first. In the end, it doesn’t really matter; the film is worth taking a family to see. It inspires goodness, and that is something that is so drastically needed, especially because the story in the film is a tale that is real.
See the rest of Winter and Hope’s stories on seewinter.com as well as what the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is all about.
Final grade? B+