Some skeptics might argue that the fact that we have a Dolphin Tale 2 is because 2011’s Dolphin Tale was a surprise hit. Sure, that could be said. But, the reality of this sequel is that there is more to Winter’s story than we learned in the first film.
Winter famously came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium when a little boy named Sawyer found him in trouble. He had lost his tail and through the help of a medical doctor wizard named Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman), he got a prosthetic tale and managed to be rehabilitated and survive at the facility. Of course, he was unable to go back into the wild as he would not make it there. But, he could live a happy life at CMA.
That was essentially the deal with Dolphin Tale. After Hollywood left and told that story, something extraordinary happened.
Winter’s dolphin friend at the aquarium passed away and the sea creature came dangerously close to death. She needed another female dolphin and let’s just say it’s a complicated and challenging road, but as Dolphin Tale 2 shows us, Hope showed up. And by Hope, we mean a small dolphin who could never return to the wild as well. But, will Winter take to Hope?
Dolphin Tale 2 brings back Nathan Gamble as Sawyer, along with his young girl friend Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff), who is the daughter of the head of the aquarium (Harry Connick Jr.’s Dr. Clay Hasket) and a huge helper at the facility.
This time out, the story primarily focuses on Sawyer, Hazel and Clay. Their efforts to keep Winter alive and to also help Hope drive the plot. There are many subplots about Sawyer getting a scholarship for a marine biology semester at sea and a potential young love brewing between our two young leads. None of that really adds up to much, but it also does not get in the way. And that is largely because of the compelling (true) story of the dolphins.
Freeman returns in a smaller role, with Kris Kristofferson and Ashley Judd returning in slightly expanded roles. Charles Martin Smith is back as the director from the first film, and even appears in a small part as an antagonist of sorts -- although the true antagonist here is father time and nature itself.
Lucky for Smith, Gamble has grown greatly as an actor because this is truthfully his film. His connection to Winter is clear and he captures how that would have grown over time from the first film to now. The fact that this story is true makes it hard to argue with what happens. But, if there was one complaint, it is that Dolphin Tale 2 lays on the sugar a little sweet. Not that there is anything wrong with that for this audience.
Clearly, even from that first Dolphin Tale 2 trailer, this film knows who its audience is. It is families with small(er) children. And our Dolphin Tale 2 review can attest that for those littlest of moviegoers, this is an approachable, memorable and inspiring Tale that is sure to keep them talking about it for days.
See how it all got started and watch Dolphin Tale online.